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Iran warns EU of "dire consequences" over sanctions

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran has warned European Union states of “dire consequences” because of their decision to impose tighter sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki speaks with journalists during a news conference in Tehran June 29, 2010. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

“Undoubtedly, such a confrontational approach may leave dire consequences in the relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the European Union,” Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in a letter to EU foreign ministers obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

The EU’s decision “will definitely cause far greater losses for the European Union itself rather than for the Islamic Republic of Iran as this is amply demonstrated in all previous statistics,” said the letter, which was received on Tuesday.

Mottaki’s letter also said the 27-nation bloc “will practically deny itself of the potentially strategic cooperation of a powerful and influential partner in the sensitive region of the Middle East and Persian Gulf.”

EU leaders last week agreed tighter sanctions against Iran, including measures to block oil and gas investment and curtail its refining and natural gas capability.

The measures, which go substantially beyond those approved by the United Nations Security Council on June 9, are designed to pressure Tehran to return to talks on its uranium enrichment program which Western powers believe is designed to produce nuclear weapons and Iran says is peaceful.

“Let us hope that the European Union will not succumb to U.S. pressures to march on a wrong path that will only produce everlasting shame before the free-minded nations of the world,” Mottaki said.

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The Iranian foreign minister also sent letters this week to some of the 12 members of the 15-nation U.N. Security Council who earlier this month voted in favor of a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Tehran.

The letter to one council member said the sanctions only made Iran more determined than ever to pursue its “absolutely peaceful nuclear program.”

“Your government’s illogical and ill-intended measure in (supporting) the illegal and unfair resolution ... is a matter of deep regret and embarrassment,” Mottaki wrote to the foreign minister of a council member. An official who disclosed the letter, asked that the country not be identified.

“There is no doubt that this measure against the Iranian nation will be recorded as a dark spot in the history of the bilateral relations,” said the letter.

Although the council approved the sanctions resolution, rotating council members Brazil and Turkey voted against it, saying a nuclear fuel swap deal they sealed in Tehran made new sanctions unnecessary. Lebanon abstained because its government was deadlocked on whether to abstain or vote against it.

Editing by David Storey and Alan Elsner