Sat, Feb 24, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Ahmadinejad stands firm on Iran's nuclear program

HARDLINE Defiant in the face of an IAEA report to the UN Security Council, the Iranian president said his country would never give in to `international bullies'

AP , TEHRAN

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed yesterday that Iran would defend its nuclear program and described his country as a potential role model for others trying to develop advanced technology.

State television reported the hard-liner president's speech to a crowd gathered in a northern Iranian town, made a day after the UN nuclear watchdog reported that Iran had not heeded the world body's demand to roll back its nuclear program.

"The Iranian nation has resisted all bullies and corrupt powers and it will fully defend all its rights," the broadcast quoted Ahmadinejad as telling people in Fuman. It did not say whether the president elaborated on the means of defense Iran would use.

Ahmadinejad declared that if his country reaches the "peaks of technology and science, then it will be a role model" for other countries, state television quoted him as saying, apparently referring to nuclear power.

State television did not report whether Ahmadinejad mentioned the report on Iran given on Thursday by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the UN's Security Council.

The IAEA told the council that Iran has ignored a UN Security Council ultimatum to freeze uranium enrichment and has instead expanded its program by setting up nearly 1,000 centrifuges.

The report said Tehran also has continued to build a heavy water reactor and related facilities. It also said that Iran ignored a Security Council call to cooperate with the IAEA in its efforts to shed light on suspicious nuclear activities.

The conclusions are the basis for the council to deliberate additional sanctions meant to punish Tehran.

The key countries are to meet next week to develop a new UN resolution on the standoff.

The council issued three demands to Iran when it adopted its resolution Dec. 23 -- freeze uranium enrichment, stop building heavy water facilities and fully cooperate with the IAEA.

It introduced limited economic sanctions and gave Iran 60 days to comply -- a deadline that expired on Wednesday.

The US and its Western allies have insisted Iran must suspend enrichment before any negotiations over its nuclear program -- a condition Tehran has rejected as it pushes ahead with developing its enrichment facilities.

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