Iran says it will not agree to suspend uranium enrichment, as demanded by the United Nations Security Council.

The Security Council has given the country until Wednesday to halt sensitive atomic work.

The UN imposed sanctions on Iran in December, barring the transfer of sensitive materials and know-how to Iran’s nuclear program.

It threatened further action if Iran did not heed UN demands.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini says the demand to suspend nuclear work is unacceptable.

“There are no grounds to do that. This issue belongs to the past,” he said.

“There is no legal and logical justification for that.”

Iran previously suspended enrichment work under an agreement with European states that broke down in 2005.

Other top Iranian officials have also insisted Iran will press ahead with its nuclear program, which the west believes is a clandestine program to build atomic bombs.

Iran denies the charge, saying it only wants to make fuel for power plants.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been quoted by the Etemad-e Melli newspaper as saying, “Nuclear energy is the country’s future and destiny”.

“If a nation does not care about its energy sources in the future, it must rely on arrogant powers [the west],” he said.

Iran sits on the world’s second biggest oil and gas reserves, but says it wants to build a network of nuclear power plants to prepare for the day when its energy supplies run out and to ensure it maximises energy exports in the meantime.

– Reuters