Iran Defiant on New U.N. Sanctions

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned that he will cut off negotiations regarding Iran's nuclear program if a new set of U.N. sanctions are imposed this week.

The threat could jeopardize the success of a recently scheduled U.N. meeting in 2012 that looks to rid the Middle East of nuclear weapons – a move that has been supported by leaders in the faith community.

The U.S. State Department is spearheading the latest set of sanctions, which seek to ban the sale of heavy weapons such as missiles and attack helicopters to Iran, curb financial lending with Iranian banks tied to the country's nuclear activities, and allow for foreign states to inspect Iranian cargo ships.

If passed, the measures will be the fourth set imposed by the U.N. on Iran, although analysts believe they will be no more successful than their predecessors.

BBC correspondent Paul Reynolds says that the sanctions have failed because they are not directed against Iran's oil industry.

"The most damaging measures would be to stop the sale to Iran of finished petroleum products and to ban investment in its oil and gas industries," Reynolds said. "Despite its wealth of oil deposits, Iran cannot refine enough products for its own use."

Meanwhile, U.S. officials have expressed their frustration over allies Turkey and Brazil who are not expected to back the new sanctions.

Both countries were involved in a nuclear fuel deal with Iran in May and have said that the U.N. should give Iran more time to fulfill its side of the promise.

"For countries like Turkey and Brazil that are on the council the question is, are they going to affirm the importance of the international non-proliferation system or are they going to vote for a country that is not in compliance with its international obligations," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told CNN.

"These are judgments that every country will have to make," he added.

The controversy comes just days after the U.N. concluded a three week review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which yielded several important results alongside the Middle East initiative including an agreement that prevents the further spread of nuclear weapons and the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Church leaders present at the conference applauded the results as successes compared to 2005's review conference, but said that compared to a recently rekindled vision of a world without nuclear weapons, the decisions were "modest nods in the right direction," according to World Council of Churches (WCC) official Jonathan Frerichs.

Several churches in the United Kingdom, who presented a petition to U.N. officials calling for the illegalization of nuclear weapons, expressed further disappointment at the lack of deadlines set for when disarmament would happen.

The Rev. David Gamble, president of the Methodist Conference in Britain, said that "in failing to agree a timeframe for further discussions, world leaders appear simply to be paying lip service to the concept of nuclear disarmament."

Faith leaders at the NPT also helped draft an agreement related to the Middle East initiative, saying that "the Arab and Israeli positions are not mutually exclusive – there cannot be peace without security, or security without peace."

"Therefore we call on regional state delegations to make a clear commitment to parallel peace and arms control tracks," they said.

The Rev. Gunnar Stalsett, moderator of the European Council of Religious Leaders, told officials during the NPT conference that, "The high aspirations which churches place on achieving critical long-term goals like nuclear disarmament have proved themselves in various fields."

"Such hopes can play a vital role in supporting incremental steps toward the ultimate goal," he added.

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