In a speech to thousands of supporters yesterday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at the US and vowed to resist "bully countries" that seek to constrain Tehran's nuclear program, a day before the UN nuclear agency is likely to vote to haul the country before the Security Council.
Speaking hours after US President George W. Bush's State of the Union address, the Iranian leader derided the US as a "hollow superpower" that is "tainted with the blood of nations" and said Tehran would continue its nuclear program.
"Nuclear energy is our right, and we will resist until this right is fully realized," Ahmadinejad told the crowd in the city of Bushehr in southern Iran, where Russia is finishing the construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant.
"Our nation can't give in to the coercion of some bully countries who imagine they are the whole world," he added.
The crowd responded with chants of "Nuclear energy is our right!"
In a personal jibe at Bush and the US Supreme Court decision that decided the 2000 election, Ahmadinejad said: "Let me devote my last word to that gentleman who with the power of a billion dollar election campaign and a court ruling has become the president of a big country."
Referring to the US military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, which border Iran, Ahmadinejad told Bush: "Those whose hands are tainted with blood of nations and are involved in wars and oppression in any part of the world ... accuse our nation of human rights violations ... we, hopefully, in the near future will put you on trial in courts that will be set up by nations."
Iran's defense minister warned all countries yesterday against considering an attack on Iran's nuclear installations.
"Any attack against Iran's peaceful nuclear facilities will meet a swift and crushing response from the armed forces," General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
The comments came after Bush said on Tuesday night that "the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons." He said the US "will continue to rally the world to confront these threats."
The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation board of governors is to meet in Vienna, Austria, today, and is expected to report Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council. The five permanent members of the Security Council agreed on Tuesday that Iran should be hauled before the powerful body.
On Tuesday, the IAEA said in a report that Iran obtained documents and drawings on the black market that serve no other purpose than to make an atomic warhead. The report also confirmed information recently provided by diplomats familiar with the Iran probe that Tehran has not started small-scale uranium enrichment since announcing it would earlier this month.
The findings about the drawings were contained in a confidential report to the IAEA board that was leaked to The Associated Press. A three-year IAEA probe has not found firm evidence of Iran trying to build nuclear weapons, but it has not been able to dismiss such suspicions.