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Iran Denies Nuclear Ambitions As UN Security Council Mulls More Sanctions

Iran has told the U.N. Security Council it has no intention of producing atomic weapons, and accused Western countries of distorting facts about Iranian nuclear intentions. VOA's Peter Heinlein at the U.N. report the Iranian denial came as western diplomats signaled their intent to push for further sanctions against Tehran.

U.S. and European diplomats told the Security Council Friday they would push for what German Ambassador Thomas Matussek called a "modest expansion" of penalties against Iran. The comments came a day after the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reported that Tehran has expanded uranium enrichment activities in defiance of an earlier Security Council demand.

A Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Jackie Sanders urged the Council to take what she called "additional appropriate actions to communicate to Iran that its non-compliance is unacceptable". "Unfortunately, Iran has yet to heed this warning or make the strategic decision to cooperate with the international community and end its pursuit of nuclear weapons capability," she said.

Iran had not been scheduled to participate in Friday's Council debate on nuclear non-proliferation. But in a hastily-arranged appearance late in the day, Iran Deputy U.N. Ambassador Mehdi Danesh Yazdi defended his country's decision to continue uranium enrichment. He denied that Tehran has any intention to produce nuclear weapons. "Iran has clearly and continuously stressed that nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in its military doctrine," he said.

The Iranian diplomat lashed out at countries he said were using the Security Council meeting on non-proliferation to make "baseless allegations" that distort Tehran's nuclear intentions. "No one in today's world can accept the unreasonable logic that it is OK for them to have nuclear weapons and threaten others with their massive arsenals and aggressive policies, while crying wolf about others' peaceful nuclear program," he said.

Senior diplomats of the five permanent Security Council members and Germany are to meet Monday in London to start work on a new resolution that would impose further sanctions on Iran.

U.N. diplomats say the new measures are likely to include a tightening of economic sanctions, a ban on travel for officials involved in Iran's nuclear program, and an expansion of the list of technology items Iran is forbidden to import or export.