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. Too late to stop Iran's nuclear drive: Ahmadinejad
TEHRAN, June 5 (AFP) Jun 05, 2007
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned on Tuesday that it was too late to stop Iran's nuclear programme despite new efforts by Western powers to impose more UN sanctions against the Islamic republic.

"It is too late to stop the progress of Iran," Ahmadinejad told reporters. "We have broken through to a new stage and it is too late to push us back."

At a typically defiant news conference, Ahmadinejad also warned the UN Security Council of the dangers of seeking to pressure Iran, telling the world body not to risk playing with a "lion's tail".

"We advise them not to indulge in child's play... They say that Iran is a lion sat down in a corner. And we tell them: Do not play with the lion's tail."

His comments were the latest warning from Tehran it has no intention of yielding to UN demands to suspend uranium enrichment activities, despite Western pressure for a third UN sanctions resolution against Tehran.

Ahmadinejad also launched a withering attack against Western powers, which he accused of seeking to dominate other peoples of the world and sow division by invading and arming states.

"If the countries of the region unite, very certainly, the great powers will not be able to dominate the world," he said at the news conference marking the 18th anniversary of the death of Iran's revolutionary founder Ruhollah Khomeini.

Iran has infuriated the West by refusing to suspend uranium, a process Europe and the United States fear could be used to make nuclear weapons. Western countries are now openly calling for more UN sanctions against Tehran.

The Security Council has already imposed two sets of sanctions over the past half year targetting Iran's ballistics and nuclear industries to punish its defiance.

Iran has repeatedly said it has no intention of suspending enrichment and is instead working on expanding the programme by installing hundreds of centrifuges at an underground plant in the central city of Natanz.

Talks between EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani last week ended without any breakthrough with both sides seemingly sticking defiantly to their positions.

In another apparent attempt to find common ground, Larijani was later Tuesday due to hold talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin just ahead of the G8 summit.

But it remains to be seen how the two sides could find agreement on the thorny question of enrichment.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has bluntly stated that the "only question" worth discussing is whether Iran was prepared to suspend.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad predicted that Washington would never be able to hurt the Islamic republic even though the United States has never ruled out military action to bring Iran to heel over its nuclear drive.

"For the past 28 years (since the 1979 Islamic revolution) this is what they have wanted but Iran is stronger than ever. The secret is to believe in God. Those who are for God are victorious."

The president once again chose to set out his vision of the world, saying that the era of "domination" by Iran's Western enemies was coming to and end and would be replaced by a new era of "understanding".

"With every day that passes, the enemy becomes more hideous and the years to come will see a strengthening of the forces of resistance in the region," he said.

In another sign of the rising tensions, Ahmadinejad was admonished by the United States and other Western powers for saying a "countdown" has begun that will end with Lebanese and Palestinian militants destroying Israel.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Ahmadinejad was "digging a deeper and deeper hole for his country".

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