Tehran Defiant as UN Passes Tough Iran Nuclear Sanctions

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The United Nation's Security Council voted to impose a fourth set of Iran nuclear sanctions today. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the sanctions were useless, and vowed that Iran's nuclear program will not be deterred.

Iran quickly dismissed a fourth set of UN Security Council sanctions, imposed on Wednesday to further restrict Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

"These resolutions have no value.... It is like a used handkerchief that should be thrown in the waste bin," Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told journalists while visiting Tajikistan.

The new Iran nuclear sanctions were hailed by President Barack Obama as "the toughest ever faced by Iran," but Iranian officials vowed to press on with their nuclear program.

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UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said that "no amount of pressure and mischief" would deter the Islamic Republic from pursuing what it says is a peaceful nuclear energy program. "Iran is one of the most powerful and stable countries in the region, and never bowed - and will never bow - to the hostile actions and pressures by these few powers."

As the latest round of UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions appeared increasingly inevitable in recent weeks, the Islamic Republic fought back with devil-may-care rhetoric--as well as frenetic diplomacy aimed at finding more friends.

"Politically, it will be a great blow," says an Iranian journalist in Tehran who asked not to be named for security reasons. "We are now moving away from gray and moving into the black-and- white phase; the political alignments will become more clear now."

"Iran is losing Russia, China, and all those countries that matter," the journalist says. "Its dollars can no longer buy political credit [because of] the great isolation it faces.... This has brought great, and visible, fear to Iranian officials."

When the vote came on Wednesday, the United States blasted what it called Iran's "continued recklessness" over its nuclear program, and spearheaded 12 votes in favor of sanctioning 40 more Iranian businesses, banks, and shipping companies - double the number of the three previous sanctions votes combined.

Toughest

Voting "no" were Turkey and Brazil--nonpermanent UNSC members that had brokered a May 17 deal with Tehran to export half of its low-enriched uranium, as a confidence-building measure. Both nations prefer diplomacy to sanctions. Lebanon abstained.

In recent weeks, senior Iranian officials have been hurriedly dispatched to distant capitals, from Austria to Uganda and Turkey to China, to lobby each of the 15 members of the UNSC, with the exception of the United States, an arch foe of Iran for 31 years.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that brandishing the "stick" of a UNSC sanctions vote would mean that Iran would not take part in future nuclear negotiations. He said the nuclear swap offer, the full details of which have not been worked out, was a one-time "opportunity."

Just hours before the sanctions vote, the US, Russia, and France presented the UN's nuclear watchdog agency with a list of nine concerns it had about the tripartite nuclear swap deal - an agreement very similar to one the US and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) put to Iran last October. …