- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2006

[1:26 p.m.]

VIENNA, Austria (AP) — The International Atomic Energy Agency said today that Iran has defied a U.N. Security Council call for a freeze on enriching uranium and its lack of cooperation with nuclear inspectors was a “matter of concern.”

President Bush said “the world is united and concerned” about what he called Iran’s “desire to have not only a nuclear weapon but the capacity to make a nuclear weapon or the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon.”

The eight-page report, obtained by The Associated Press, said that after more than three years of an IAEA investigation of Iran’s nuclear program, “the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern.”

“Any progress in that regard requires full transparency and active cooperation by Iran,” said the report, written by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

The finding set the stage for a showdown in the U.N. Security Council, which is expected to meet next week and start a process that could result in punitive measures against the Islamic republic.

But Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said no Security Council resolution could make Iran give up its nuclear program.

“The Iranian nation won’t give a damn about such useless resolutions,” Ahmadinejad told thousands of people today in Khorramdareh in northwestern Iran before the IAEA report was issued.

“Today, they want to force us to give up our way through threats and sanctions but those who resort to language of coercion should know that nuclear energy is a national demand and by the grace of God, today Iran is a nuclear country,” state-run television quoted him as saying.

Mr. Bush said he was not discouraged by Iran’s vow to continue despite global pressure, and while he has refused to rule out the possibility of military action against Iran, he emphasized the pursuit of diplomatic efforts.

“I think the diplomatic options are just beginning,” he said in Washington.

John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said “the United States is ready to take action in the Security Council to move to a resolution. … We hope that we can get council action just as soon as possible.”

Mr. Bolton said the resolution should be under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter “making mandatory for Iran the existing requirements of the IAEA resolutions, and particularly the resolution the board passed in February.” Chapter 7 resolutions can be enforced by sanctions, or militarily.

He said the IAEA report shows that Iran “has accelerated its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons although, of course, the report doesn’t make any conclusions in that regard.”

“I think the evidence of Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, its extensive program to achieve a ballistic missile program of longer and longer range and greater accuracy constitutes a classic threat to international peace and security, especially when combined with Iran’s long status as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” Mr. Bolton said.

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