TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Tuesday it intended to take unspecified legal action over an IAEA rebuke of its nuclear activities and would provide Iranians with enough gasoline in order to trump any further U.N. sanctions.
The IAEA board angered Iran last week when it censured it for covertly building a second uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom, in addition to its main IAEA-monitored one at Natanz, and calling for a halt to construction.
Tehran said on Sunday it would build 10 more uranium enrichment sites in retaliation for the vote by the 35-nation board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, which had rare Russian and Chinese backing.
“(Foreign Minister Manouchehr) Mottaki will declare the Islamic Republic’s appreciation or opposition to the (position of) members of the governing body in separate letters,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said at a news conference reported in official news agency IRNA.
He said Iran would complain to the countries that supported the resolution but that it would not cause a change in Iran’s relations with Russia and China, often seen as allies.
“We will confront the resolution legally,” he said, according to student agency ISNA, without giving more details.
The United States and its allies fear Iran’s nuclear energy program could allow the Islamic Republic to develop nuclear weapons, thought Tehran says it has no such intention.
Iran has resisted a deal with Western powers that would see its low-enriched uranium sent abroad for processing into uranium for making fuel.
Though Russia has said it was “seriously concerned” at the announcement of 10 planned new sites, it said this week it still planned to start up Iran’s first nuclear power station in March.
“I don’t think Russia will face any problem. That’s what’s agreed upon,” Mehmanparast said, reiterating that “all our nuclear activities will be under IAEA supervision.”
Western countries are threatening more U.N. sanctions on Iran which could targets its imports of gasoline. Though one of the world’s biggest producers, Iran does not have refining capacity to meet current domestic demand.
Iran says it will expand its own production and plans to cut costly subsidies in a bid to reduce public consumption.
“Our plan is still being pursued, we must be on our own and provide our fuel ourselves,” Mehmanparast said.
Reporting by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Alison Williams