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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. refuses to give visa to Iran pres. for UN session - Tehran

RIA Novosti

23/03/2007 15:50 TEHRAN, March 23 (RIA Novosti) - American authorities have refused to issue a visa for the Iranian leader, who planned to attend a UN Security Council session expected to toughen sanctions against his country over its nuclear program, diplomats in Tehran said.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry's announcement contradicts a Monday report by the U.S. State Department that the authorities had issued a visa for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other officials in his delegation.

"Despite media reports that U.S. authorities have promised to issue the visa for the Iranian president and other Iranian officials accompanying him, the president and his delegation have not received the visas," Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said.

The 15-nation UN Security Council will meet Friday at 16:00 GMT for consultations to set the time for the vote, which is due March 24 on a new Iran resolution.

Ahmadinejad planned to attend the session, which is expected to vote on a new resolution on his country, in order to "defend the Islamic Republic's right to peaceful nuclear technologies."

After Iran resumed nuclear research, including uranium enrichment, last January, Western nations and Israel have suspected the country of pursuing a clandestine weapons program. Iran insists it needs the technologies to generate energy.

"We have the impression that U.S. authorities are following a unilateral policy and set the target of preventing the Iranian president's presence at the UN Security Council session," the Iranian diplomat said, adding that Washington was violating consular UN norms.

The draft resolution on Iran, sponsored by Britain, France and Germany, has already been submitted to the UN Security Council and includes some amendments proposed by three non-permanent members of the council - South Africa, Qatar and Indonesia.

The new document agreed by six negotiators on Iran - the five permanent Security Council members and Germany - emphasizes that diplomatic solution of the Iranian problem remains on the negotiating table, but stipulates a ban on Iranian arms exports and a recommendation to avoid selling weapons to the republic.

The draft resolution also limits foreign trips by Iranian officials and leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps responsible for Iran's missile forces.

The document proposes that other countries and international financial organizations provide no loans or grants to Iran unless they are for humanitarian purposes. It also freezes bank accounts of legal entities and individuals involved in nuclear and missile projects.

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