From: Reuters
Published February 23, 2008 03:11 PM

Iran says more sanctions won't halt nuclear plan

By Zahra Hosseinian

TEHRAN (Reuters) - World powers can pass U.N. sanctions resolutions for 100 years without deterring Iran from its nuclear ambitions, Iran's president said on Saturday.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's defiant comments came a day after a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Iran was being more transparent about its nuclear plans but was not doing enough to clear up concerns about whether Tehran had military aims.

Tehran insists its plans are peaceful. But the United States, which has accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear bombs, said Friday's International Atomic Energy Agency report was a good reason to impose more U.N. sanctions.

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"If they want to continue with that path (of sanctions), we will not be harmed. They can issue resolutions for 100 years," the president told state television in an interview.

Those leading the bid to impose more penalties, an apparent reference to Washington, and its allies could not "bring the Iranian nation to its knees," he said.

"If they continue (with this pressure), we have designed reciprocal actions," he said without elaborating.

Iranian officials have previously warned that the Islamic Republic could review cooperation with the IAEA, if pushed.

The president declared the IAEA report a "victory" for the Iranian nation, pointing to areas of the document which showed Iranian cooperation had cleared up suspicions.

Other Iranian officials and media have echoed those sentiments since the report's publication, making little reference to other aspects of the report where doubts remain.

RESIST

The IAEA said it had confronted Iran for the first time with Western intelligence showing work linked to making nuclear bombs and said Tehran had not given satisfactory answers.

In the interview, the president recounted Iran's row with the West since 2002 when an exiled Iranian opposition group exposed parts of the Islamic Republic's program that had been kept hidden, including a uranium enrichment facility.

"The path showed that every time we retreat they move forward, and whenever we resist, they have to retreat," he said.

He said Iran would not reverse a peaceful program which the nation considered its right.

The U.N. Security Council has demanded Iran halt enrichment, the part of the program that most worries the West because the process can be used to make fuel for power plants or, potentially, material for bombs. Iran has refused.

Tehran insists it is seeking to master nuclear technology so it can make fuel for a planned network of nuclear power plants and save its huge oil and gas reserves for export.

Iran has failed to convince world powers about its peaceful aims. Britain and France have said they hope the U.N. Security Council will vote next week on a third round of U.N. sanctions.

In an earlier message to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final word in all state matters including nuclear policy, the president said the IAEA report was a victory over "domineering powers."

Israel, Iran's arch foe and widely believed to be the only Middle East state with a nuclear arsenal, said in a statement that Iran was continuing to hamper the IAEA's investigation.

"Israel is convinced that the international community must increase its pressure on Iran in order to ensure it does not obtain nuclear weapons," a Foreign Ministry statement said. (Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia)

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