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Iran not to end N-project even if UNSC moves out

Mottaki said "suspending nuclear activities goes against our legitimate rights and is not part of the NPT".

india Updated: May 21, 2006 09:07 IST

Iran's foreign minister rejected the latest idea being floated to resolve his country's standoff with the international community saying that Tehran would not give up uranium enrichment even if its file is withdrawn from the UN Security Council.

Manouchehr Mottaki told journalists on Saturday that Iran supports suspending the talks in the council, but "suspending nuclear activities goes against our legitimate rights and is not part of the NPT," or Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The five permanent Security Council members and Germany are considering dropping UN Security Council involvement in Iran's nuclear file if Tehran agrees to suspend uranium enrichment, said diplomats but could push for selective sanctions backed by the threat of force if it doesn't, diplomats said on Saturday.

The United States, Britain and France, all veto-wielding members of the council believe that Iran is using its nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons -- an accusation Tehran denies. Mottaki's comments came at the end of a brief visit to Kuwait, where he met with its leader, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah. Kuwait, along with Iran's other Arab neighbors on the Persian Gulf, is concerned that Iran's nuclear ambitions _ even if peaceful _ could pose an environmental hazard. Iran's Bushehr reactor, currently under construction near its coast, is only some 300 kilometers (185 miles) away.

Gulf countries also fear getting caught in any Iranian retaliation against US troops stationed in their countries if force is used against Iran. American troops based in Kuwait,Qatar and Bahrain.

Diplomats were considering a draft proposal to end Iran's standoff with the international community ahead of a meeting Wednesday. In return for suspending discussion of Iran's nuclear file in the council, Tehran would resume discussion of its nuclear program, suspend uranium enrichment during such talks and lift a ban on intrusive inspections by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

It also offers help in building new light-water reactors in Iran, offers an assured supply of nuclear fuel for up to five years and asks Tehran to accept a plan that would move its enrichment program to Russia.

If Iran does not cooperate, however, the draft calls for bans on travel visas, freezing assets and banning financial transactions of key government figures and those involved in Iran's nuclear program. It also suggests imposing an arms embargo, and other measures including an embargo on shipping refined oil products to Iran. Mottaki, with the Kuwaiti foreign minister, Sheik Mohammed Al Sabah, at his side, said that the emir had accepted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's invitation to visit Iran but a date had not been set.

Kuwait's ties with Iran deteriorated during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war when Kuwait supported Iraq.Tehran's neutral stand during the 1991 Gulf War that ended Iraq's brief occupation of Kuwait brought the two countries closer, and Kuwait is considering importing natural gas and fresh water from Iran.