- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 11, 2010

TEHRAN (AP) — Iran will file a formal complaint with the United Nations against the United States after President Obama excluded Iran from a pledge not to use nuclear weapons against countries that do not have them, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Mr. Obama’s implicit threat to use nuclear weapons against Iran was a “threat to global peace and security,” according to Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency.

Earlier Sunday, 222 lawmakers in Iran’s 290-seat Parliament called on the Iranian government to file the complaint.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, also said Mr. Obama’s threatening language is proof that the U.S. cannot be trusted.

Mr. Obama announced America’s new nuclear strategy Tuesday, including a vow not to use nuclear weapons against countries that do not have them. Iran, however, was pointedly excepted from that pledge, along with North Korea, because Washington accuses them of not cooperating with the international community on nonproliferation standards.

Mr. Obama’s new nuclear strategy turns the U.S. focus away from the Cold War threats and instead aims to stop the spread of atomic weapons to rogue states or terrorists. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said the focus now would be on terror groups such as al Qaeda as well as North Korea’s nuclear buildup and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The United States and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied that charge, saying its nuclear program is peaceful.

“We will formally hand over our complaint to the United Nations in response to these threats,” Mr. Mehmanparast said Sunday. “Such statements show that countries possessing nuclear weapons themselves are the biggest threat to world security.”

Iran, meanwhile, is pushing ahead with its nuclear work. On Friday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled a third generation of centrifuge that will be used to accelerate a uranium enrichment program that is of central concern to the United States and its allies.

Enrichment is used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants, but it also provides a possible pathway to nuclear weapons development. Three sets of U.N. sanctions have failed to pressure Iran to stop enrichment. The United States is leading the push for a fourth round of penalties.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a TV news program on Sunday that Iran’s claimed advancements should be taken “with more than a grain of salt.”

“But in fact their belligerence is helping to make our case every single day,” Mrs. Clinton told ABC’s “This Week.” ”Countries that might have had doubts about Iranian intentions, who might have even questioned whether Iran was seeking nuclear weapons, are having those doubts dispelled as much by the evidence we present as by what comes out of the leadership of Iran.”

The exception from the U.S. nonuse pledge represents a warning to Tehran. But the Obama administration’s new nuclear policy guidelines also aim to show Washington is serious about reducing its own arsenal and about gathering world support for stricter safeguards against nuclear proliferation — a step aimed at further isolating Iran diplomatically.

Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, said the U.S. president’s remarks were “disgraceful.”

“The U.S. president has implicitly threatened the Iranian nation with nuclear weapons. These remarks are very strange. The world should not ignore it because in the 21st century … the head of a state is threatening a nuclear attack. The U.S. president’s remarks are disgraceful,” Ayatollah Khamenei said Sunday on state television.

“These remarks mean the U.S. government is a villain government that can’t be trusted,” he said.

On Sunday, Iran also announced the development of a more advanced anti-aircraft system able to hit aircraft at low and medium altitudes.

The new defense system uses Shahin missiles, an Iranian version of the 1970s-era U.S.-manufactured Hawk missile.

Iran has been looking to upgrade its air defenses, especially as Israel and the United States have refused to rule out airstrikes if diplomacy fails to stop Iran’s enrichment program.

Iran’s nuclear facilities are scattered around the country, and some are deep underground or in mountainsides to protect them from attack.

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