( RIA Novosti ) - Iran's foreign minister expressed doubts on Friday that the UN Security Council will impose new, tougher sanctions against the country over its nuclear program this year.
"I am ruling out the possibility that a new [UN] resolution over Iran's civilian nuclear program could be passed in the remaining days of this year, but the United States will renew efforts to have it adopted after New Year," Manuchehr Mottaki said, as quoted by the official Iranian news agency IRNA.
The U.S. and its European allies suspect Iran of pursing a covert program to build nuclear weapons and have pushed for tougher sanctions against Tehran. The Islamic Republic has refused to halt uranium enrichment, a process needed in both weapons production and electricity generation, insisting that its nuclear program is peaceful.
Mottaki said the position of those members of the UN Security Council seeking to impose further sanctions on Iran has been considerably weakened thanks to Iran's recent cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog.
A report delivered earlier this month by the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, stresses the positive aspects of Iran's "nuclear dossier," saying the country has provided extra documentation, noting, however, that the Islamic Republic was continuing to enrich uranium.
Iran has interpreted this as IAEA recognition of its nuclear program's stated peaceful goals, and has demanded that two sets of mild sanctions already in place against it be lifted.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said his country's efforts to withstand Western pressure to close down the nuclear program are of more importance to him than the actual program itself, saying on November 21 that the country would gain "a greatness that is 100 times more precious than nuclear energy," if it were able to do so.
"Confronting those who speak in the language of aggression... is more important than the possession of know-how in the nuclear sphere," he said at a rally at Ardebil, a city in the northeast of Iran.
Saeed Jalili, who heads Iran's Supreme National Security Council, is holding talks in London today with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana prior to a meeting in Paris on Saturday between the six countries mediating in the Iranian nuclear dispute.
A further round of sanctions against the Islamic Republic has so far been blocked by China and Russia.