No talks on N-issue if sanctioned: Ahmadinejad

Iran`s Prez said his country would reject talks on N-programme if it was slapped with new sanctions.

Istanbul: Iran`s president said Tuesday his country would reject talks on its nuclear programme if it was slapped with new UN sanctions as Russia signalled measures had already been "practically agreed upon".

As the UN Security Council geared up for fresh talks on a fourth sanctions resolution, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Western powers to drop the measures in favour of a nuclear fuel swap deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey last month.

"I have said that the US government and its allies are mistaken if they think they can brandish the stick of resolution and then sit down to talk with us, such a thing will not happen," he told a news conference here.

"We will talk to everyone if there is respect and fairness but if someone wants to talk to us rudely and in a domineering manner the response is known already," added the Iranian leader, who is in Turkey for the summit of an Asian security grouping.

The UN Security Council was to hold new closed-door consultations Tuesday on the new sanctions after its 15 members failed to reach a consensus on a meeting on Monday.

The council`s five permanent members -- Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States -- are co-sponsoring the sanctions draft and believe they have the votes to secure its passage in a vote that might come as early as Wednesday.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said a consensus was already emerging on the new sanctions.

"We...believe that the resolution is practically agreed upon," Putin told a press conference in Istanbul, also adding that the new sanctions should not be "excessive", Russia`s ITAR-TASS reported.

But he also appeared unconvinced that sanctions were needed.

"There is a need to settle a dangerous situation like Iran`s nuclear programme by way of constructive talks with the involvement of all interested parties," the Interfax news agency quoted Putin as saying.

A Turkish diplomat said to a news agency on condition of anonymity that Ankara was trying to persuade Iran not to leave the table even if sanctions were imposed.

Ahmadinejad called on Western powers not to dismiss the Turkish-Brazilian nuclear fuel swap which he described as an opportunity that should be "put to good use". "Opportunities will not be repeated," he warned.

Tehran was still waiting for a response from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the deal, he added.

Diplomats close to the atomic watchdog said Monday they expected to hand IAEA chief Yukiya Amano a joint reponse from the so-called Vienna group of countries imminently.

Under the deal, Iran agreed to ship 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in return for high-enriched uranium fuel for a Tehran reactor.

The United States and other world powers have given a cool reaction to the deal, saying it did not go far enough to allay fears that Tehran is using its nuclear drive as a cover for a nuclear weapons programme.

Brazil and Turkey have said they will not support the new sanctions resolution, standing behind the swap deal as an opportunity for a diplomatic resolution to the standoff.

Lebanon has also indicated it cannot support the resolution for domestic political reasons.

The US draft sanctions resolution would expand an arms embargo and measures against Iran`s banking sector and ban it from sensitive overseas activities like uranium mining and developing ballistic missiles, diplomats said.

It also bars the sale of battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems to Iran.

It urges all states to inspect all cargo to and from Iran in their territory, including seaports and airports, when there is reasonable grounds to believe they carry banned items.

It also authorizes states to conduct high-sea inspections of vessels believed to be ferrying banned items from or to Iran.

Bureau Report

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