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Wed 19 May 2010 02:44 PM

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Iran sanctions draft 'not legitimate'

US handed a draft resolution to UN Security Council to expand sanctions against Iran.

Iran sanctions draft 'not legitimate'

Under a deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey on Monday, Iran agreed to send some enriched uranium abroad in return for fuel rods for a medical research reactor.(Getty Images)

A close ally of Iran's president denounced as illegitimate on Wednesday a draft U.N. resolution which would expand sanctions against Tehran because of its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

The text, agreed by all five permanent Security Council members after months of negotiation, targets Iranian banks and calls for inspection of vessels suspected of carrying cargo related to Iran's nuclear or missile programmes.

"The draft being discussed at the United Nations Security Council has no legitimacy at all," Iran's semi-official Fars news agency quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's senior adviser Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi as saying.

Western diplomats say the text was the result of a compromise between the United States and its three European allies, which had pushed for much tougher sanctions against Tehran, and Russia and China, which sought to dilute them.

Few of the proposed measures are new. But Western diplomats said the end result was probably the best they could have hoped for, given China's and Russia's determination to avoid measures that might have undermined Iran's troubled economy.

The decision to circulate the resolution to the 15-nation Security Council on Tuesday was a rebuff to a deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey in which Iran agreed to send some enriched uranium abroad in return for fuel rods for a medical research reactor.

Iran and the two countries which brokered the swap deal urged a halt to talk of further sanctions. But the United States and its European allies regard the deal as a manoeuvre by Iran to delay their efforts to increase pressure on Tehran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki expressed surprise on Wednesday when asked about the draft resolution.

Asked by a Reuters reporter what Iran's reaction would be, Mottaki said in English: "Are you sure?" After an assurance that major powers had agreed the draft, Mottaki said: "Don't take it serious". He then walked away.

It was not clear whether Mottaki had not seen the draft or whether he was dismissing it. He was attending a meeting in the Tajik capital Dushanbe of foreign ministers from the Organization of the Islamic Conference.  (Reuters)