TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran on Friday called United Nations sanctions against its nuclear programme “illegal” and blamed the United States — the main proponent of the measures — for the spread of atomic weapons around the world.
In a defiant statement read out by a hardline cleric at Friday prayers, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said the sanctions broke the U.N. charter and should be revoked.
“The entrance of the United Nations Security Council in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities is illegal and invalid,” said the statement, issued by the body which coordinates Iran’s defence and security policy.
“(The U.N. Security) Council should swiftly take corrective action and correct its past mistakes,” it said.
The U.N. Security Council voted earlier this month for a fourth round of sanctions aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear programme which the West fears could lead to nuclear weapons.
Iran, which denies it is seeking the bomb, has dismissed the measures as ineffective, but further, tougher U.S. and European sanctions could have greater impact, analysts say.
In its latest salvo against Washington, Iran said the United States was the main culprit of “using, producing and spreading nuclear weapons” and taunted it over its failure to stem the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
“How can a regime which is not able to stop an oil well (spill) gain the world’s trust for curbing its nuclear arsenal which is the biggest threat for the world?” it said.
The U.N. sanctions target Iranian banks suspected of connections with nuclear or missile programmes. They also expand an arms embargo and call for a cargo inspection regime.
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, leading Friday prayers broadcast on national radio, said a bill before parliament would enable Iran to respond in kind to any attempts to search its ships.
“They want to stop and inspect our ships and planes, which is a real shame,” he said. “Well done to parliament. The lawmakers said we would retaliate and do the same thing to your ships in the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea.”
The statement also said Iran would retaliate to measures it considers unwarranted.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran explicitly announces that any action against legal and legitimate interests of Iranian nation will in return receive a legal response and appropriate action of Iran.”
Sanctions agreed by European Union leaders on Thursday — some of which are aimed at “key sectors of the gas and oil industry” — could have greater impact on the OPEC member’s economy that the U.N. measures.
The U.S. Treasury imposed new sanctions on Wednesday and Congress is drawing up its own set of measures against Iran.
Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Matthew Jones