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Why Tehran courts UN members from Brazil to Bosnia on Iran nuclear issue

Facing a US-led push for fresh Iran nuclear sanctions within weeks, Tehran has launched a diplomatic counteroffensive aimed at smaller UN players who will vote on the issue. Brazilian leaders are in Tehran today.

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US lawmakers are currently considering unilateral legislation that would go much further than the punitive UN measures by blocking refined fuel imports to Iran. Enforcement would require a naval blockade of Iran, which critics note is an act of war.

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“Iran is going around the world to evade responsibility ... but I think we are confident that the UN Security Council will put forth a resolution,” a senior US State Department official said on Monday, according to Agence France-Presse. “Countries are very conscious of Iran’s failure to live up to its obligations. No one wants to see the [nuclear] Non-Proliferation Treaty undercut.”

Tehran hosting Brazilian leaders this week

Iranian officials routinely dismiss as harmless any fourth layer of UNSC sanctions, meant – like the previous three sets – to force Iran to stop enriching uranium while it resolves remaining questions about possible weapon efforts.

But it appears that Iran is pulling out all the diplomatic stops to prevent new sanctions.

After meeting with Mr. Amorim on Monday, parliament speaker Ali Larijani – Iran’s former top nuclear negotiator – said sanctions pressure would not force Iran to stop enriching uranium, as required by previous UNSC decisions.

“Issuing resolutions and imposing sanctions is not the correct language for dialogue and interaction with Iran,” said Mr. Larijani, adding that “sensationalism and making a fuss will not have any influence on the Iranian people’s will to resist.”

Amorim, for his part, said that he didn't see Iran as being "close" to making a bomb.

“Call us naïve, but I think those who believe in everything the US intelligence service says are much more naïve," said the foreign minister in a Sunday press interview ahead of his two-day visit wrapping up today. "Look at Iraq.”

Ahmadinejad courts Zimbabwe, Uganda

On Monday, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the veto rights of its five permanent members “satanic tools” – along with atomic bombs.

Ahmadinejad has taken Iran's diplomacy to Africa. In the past few days, he has visited Zimbabwe – where he reportedly discussed swapping oil for uranium ore – and UNSC-member Uganda.

The State Department official quoted by AFP said that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had called Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni during Ahmadinejad’s visit, and that Mr. Museveni said he would “raise certain issues with Iran and help them understand what their responsibilities are.”

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