- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 14, 2006

TEHRAN (AP) — Iran’s president yesterday denounced Western nations for threatening to refer his country to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program, saying the international community has no legal basis for restricting Tehran’s right to research.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country has not violated the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows signatories to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.

“There is no evidence to prove Iran’s diversion [toward nuclear weapons],” Mr. Ahmadinejad said at a press conference.

His comments came a day after Iran threatened to end surprise inspections and other cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency if it is referred to the Security Council.

Europe and the United States have been trying to build support for such a move, saying more than two years of acrimonious negotiations have reached a dead end. But they faced resistance from China, which warned the move could only escalate the confrontation.

Iran insists its program is peaceful, intended only to produce electricity, but the U.S. and others think it is seeking to develop atomic weapons.

“The world public opinion knows that Iran has not violated the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said. “There are no restrictions for nuclear research activities under the NPT. … How is it possible to prevent the scientific development of a nation?”

Iran resumed research work on uranium enrichment last week, drawing fierce international condemnation.

On Tuesday, Iran removed some U.N. seals from its main uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, central Iran, and resumed research on nuclear fuel — including some small-scale enrichment.

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