Iran to France: sanctions won't stop atomic plans

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TEHRAN, Oct 22 (Reuters) Iran will not abandon its right to nuclear technology regardless of threats of more sanctions, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in a letter to his French counterpart issued today by an Iranian news agency.

France, which has toughened its rhetoric against Tehran since President Nicolas Sarkozy took office in May, is pushing for stronger European Union sanctions against Tehran at the same time as negotiating a third round of UN sanctions.

''Iran will not let its right to nuclear technology be suppressed ... Using tools like the Security Council, economic sanctions and other threats cannot deprive our nation and our government for a moment from its decision,'' Mottaki wrote to Bernard Kouchner in the letter published by ISNA news agency.

''Taking actions and imposing unilateral sanctions against countries is illegal and an obvious violation of the UN charter ... Also it contradicts their commitment to resolving the issue through diplomacy,'' Mottaki wrote.

''You cannot talk about dialogue while following the path of pressure and threats,'' the Iranian minister added.

Major powers have agreed to hold off on more penalties until at least November to see if Iran cooperates with the UN nuclear watchdog to explain its nuclear aims and to await a report from EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

The West accuses Iran of seeking to build atomic bombs, a charge Tehran denies, saying it wants to master nuclear technology so it can produce electricity and preserve more of its huge oil and gas reserves for export.

REUTERS SG HT1727

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