Tehran (RIA Novosti) Feb 21, 2007
Iranians will continue to make full use of peaceful nuclear energy and disregard opposition from countries speaking the language of force, the president said Wednesday. Speaking on the day when the UN Security Council's deadline for Iran to halt uranium enrichment expires, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Islamic Republic would not give up research in the nuclear fuel cycle.
"After the Iranian nation fully obtains peaceful nuclear energy technologies, two important events will take place: firstly, Iran will quickly become one of the world's most powerful nations, and secondly, other countries will follow suit," Ahmadinejad said.
Iran has consistently rejected allegations that it seeks nuclear weapons, saying it only wants nuclear fuel for energy regeneration, which is in line with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
"The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue to move down the path to achieve successes in the nuclear sector, and we will not budge an inch," Ahmadinejad said earlier on Wednesday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, British military sources told the British magazine The New Statesman Monday that the U.S. military "switched its whole focus to Iran" after Saddam Hussein was toppled in Iraq.
Iran has been under international pressure since it resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006, which some Western countries suspect is part of a covert nuclear weapons program. Tehran says it needs nuclear power for energy.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution in December imposing sanctions against Iran banning sensitive technology transfers to and restricting financial transactions with the country.
The issue will return to the Security Council, where the U.S. is expected to push for more sanctions, following a report by International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei.
Further sanctions could result in a complete or partial severing of economic, diplomatic and other ties with Iran.
Russia, a key economic partner of Iran, has consistently supported the Islamic Republic's right to nuclear power under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and has resisted the imposition of harsh sanctions.
Russia is building a nuclear power plant in Bushehr in southern Iran, a project worth $1 billion, the contract was signed in 1995.
New resolution on Iran nuclear program looms at UN
But some privately acknowledge that a new resolution tightening sanctions imposed in December appears inevitable.
A US diplomat told reporters there was no draft text pre-negotiated between the United States and its European allies ready to be circulated among council members as soon as the IAEA report is out. Asked if that might be the case, the diplomat, speaking privately issued a categorical "No."
"I don't think a decision's been made as to what the next step is. Clearly, options are before us, so we'll be discussing them," he added.
The Security Council was due to hold Friday public debate on the general issue of non-proliferation in which Iran could be brought up but the meeting is not specifically on the Iranian case.
The United States and many western countries believe Tehran is using its nuclear energy program to secretly develop nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this, saying it is only pursuing nuclear energy.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Wednesday his country would continue its contentious nuclear drive at rapid speed, defying the latest UN deadline for Tehran to suspend sensitive atomic activities.
The deadline was set by the UN Security Council on December 23 when it imposed sanctions and gave the UN nuclear watchdog 60 days to report on whether Iran has imposed a "full and sustained suspension" of uranium enrichment.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei is due to report to the council by Friday and is widely expected to confirm that Iran is pushing ahead with enrichment, a process the West fears could be used to make nuclear weapons.
It is not clear what further penalties Iran could face for failing to obey the deadline, although the United States has threatened to crank up the hitherto relatively limited sanctions.
"We continue to see a lot of statements made from the Iranian side. What we have not seen, and what is the thing that would be important to see, is an actual move to comply with the requirements of UN Security Council resolutions and their other international obligations," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said in Washington.
"We have got a good offer on the table. It's one that could provide for the stated goal of the Iranians, which is a civilian nuclear power program. But that of course would also ensure that they could not use it for the cover of building a nuclear weapon," he said.
"Unfortunately, the Iranian government has chosen to spurn that offer and has continued to march down this other path. ... Unfortunately, I think it is pretty clear to everyone at this point that Iran has not made any move to comply," Casey added.
In Moscow, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said a tougher UN resolution should be drafted on Iran in a bid to halt its uranium enrichment program in line with international demands.
Source: RIA Novosti
Source: Agence France-Presse
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Moscow (RIA Novosti) Feb 21, 2007
The Russian foreign minister said Wednesday U.S.-led multinational foreign forces in Iraq must not conduct military operations outside the country, including against Iran. "The multinational force in Iraq should abide strictly by the UN Security Council's mandate, which does not provide for any operations outside the country," Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with weekly Lebanese magazine Al-Watan Al-Arabi.
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