World News

Iran warns sanctions could hurt nuclear cooperation

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran’s cooperation with the U.N. nuclear agency depends on world powers’ “legal and logical” behaviour, an Iranian official said on Saturday in an apparent warning to the West not to impose new sanctions on Tehran.

Iranian deputy chief nuclear negotiator Javad Vaeedi was also quoted by Iranian news agencies as saying he would meet a senior aide of European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Vienna on Wednesday.

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme last Thursday saying Tehran had made important strides towards clarifying past nuclear activities but that key questions remain unresolved.

Iran said the report showed it had been telling the truth about its activities. But the United States said Iran was still defying the international community and that Washington would proceed with allies to draft broader U.N. sanctions against it.

Washington and some European countries suspect Iran is seeking to build atom bombs. Tehran says its aims are peaceful.

Iran in August agreed with the U.N. agency to clear up questions about its programme to allay doubts, but it has refused to heed U.N. demands to suspend its most sensitive nuclear work.

“It is natural that continuation of the modality agreed between Iran and the agency depends on (the world powers’) legal and logical behaviour,” Vaeedi told reporters, according to Mehr News Agency.

Wednesday’s talks are aimed at preparing an upcoming meeting between Solana and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, who this week said that passing a third round of U.N. sanctions against Iran would “impact” its cooperation with the IAEA.

“This meeting is aimed at fixing and doing the final preparations for the future meeting between Jalili and Solana,” Vaeedi said.

Political directors from Britain, France, Germany, the United States, Russia and China were due to meet on Monday to assess the IAEA report about Iran’s nuclear work as well as one from Solana.

But China dealt a blow to Western efforts to increase diplomatic pressure on Iran by dropping out of the meeting that had been expected to discuss tougher sanctions on Iran, which has already defied two rounds of limited punitive U.N. measures.

China and Russia, both with significant commercial interests in the Islamic Republic, resist imposing new sanctions on Iran.

(Reporting by Reza Derakhshi and Hossein Jaseb; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Peter Millership)

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