April 14, 2006

Iran dismisses US call for strong U.N. action

TEHRAN (Reuters) - The Iranian president on Friday
dismissed remarks by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
who said the United Nations must consider strong action to
force Iran to comply with demands over its nuclear plans.

"What she said is not important. She is free to speak out,"
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on the sidelines of a conference in
Tehran, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Ahmadinejad drew condemnation from the United States and
other world powers by announcing on Tuesday that Iran had
enriched uranium to a level used in power stations, defying
U.N. demands for Iran to halt enrichment.

The United States and other Western nations accuse Iran of
seeking to master enrichment technology to build atomic
weapons, a charge Iran denies. Washington says it wants a
diplomatic solution, but has not ruled out a military option.

Yahya Rahim Safavi, commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary
Guards, said the armed forces were ready to defend Iran.

"Any military attack will be the second strategic mistake
(by the United States). Americans know better than anyone else
that their forces in the region and Iraq are vulnerable," he
told reporters.

"The Middle East is like a barrel of explosive material. By
such an attack, this explosion will take place and their forces
in the region will be harmed most," he said, also speaking on
the sidelines of the conference.

Rice said on Thursday that the U.N. Security Council should
look at Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter to force Iran to comply
with international obligations over its nuclear plans.

"I am certain we will look at measures that can be taken to
ensure that Iran knows that they really have no choice but to
comply," Rice told reporters.

Chapter 7 makes a resolution mandatory under international
law for all U.N. members. It can lead to sanctions and
eventually the use of force if it specifically calls for them
or threatens "all necessary measures."

A Chapter 7 resolution passed against Iraq has been seen as
giving the United States a legal argument for the bombing and
then invasion of that country.

The Security Council is divided over how hard to push Iran.
Russia, one of the five veto-wielding council members, fears
that the United States might interpret a Chapter 7 resolution
on Iran in the same way it interpreted it over Iraq.