Iran wants to brief UN Council on nuclear plans

 
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TEHRAN, Mar 11 (Reuters) Iran said today President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wanted to brief the UN Security Council about his country's civilian nuclear plans, which the West says are a covert attempt to make atom bombs.

The five permanent members of the Council -- the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia -- plus Germany are considering imposing new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear ambitions, which Tehran insists are entirely peaceful.

''The president of Iran plans to speak in a possible meeting of the Security Council on Iran's nuclear programme to defend the right of the Iranian nation to use peaceful nuclear technology,'' state TV today quoted government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham as saying, without giving further details.

Iran's IRNA news agency quoted Elham as saying Ahmadinejad planned to attend ''if the Security Council has a meeting on Iran's nuclear programme''. The Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed the news to reporters but gave no more details.

Iran has ignored United Nations demands that it halt uranium enrichment, a process Western nations say Tehran is mastering so it can produce atom bombs. Iran, the world's fourth biggest oil exporter, insists its aim is nuclear power generation.

The Security Council imposed in December a package of limited sanctions including a ban on the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology or know-how. It threatened further steps if Iran failed to meet its Feb. 21 deadline to suspend enrichment.

The six world powers are considering new measures but both China and Russia have balked at the idea of financial sanctions.

''We believe that if they follow an extreme way it won't help find a logical and legal solution but we cannot give up our obvious right (to nuclear technology),'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a news conference.

He repeated Iran's call for negotiations to end the standoff.

''We have always suggested that if the other side has any ideas or solutions which are in the framework of regulations and which guarantee Iran's rights, they can discuss them and the best place for that is the negotiating table,'' he said.

A draft of new measures being considered against Iran would expand a list of people, firms and groups whose assets would be frozen or with whom trade would be restricted, such as Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the state-owned Bank Sepah.

REUTERS SP BD1810

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