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Ahmadinejad: Iran won’t retreat from nuclear path
TEHRAN (AP) — Iran won’t retreat “one iota” from its nuclear program, but the world is being misled by claims that it seeks atomic weapons, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday in his first reaction since a U.N. watchdog report that Tehran is on the brink of developing a nuclear warhead.
The comments, broadcast live on state TV, contrasted sharply with Western warnings that Iran appears to be engaged in a dangerous defiance of international demands to control the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions.
In Paris, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said France would support boosting sanctions against Tehran to an “unprecedented scale” if Iran stonewalls investigations, even as Israel and others say that military options are still possible.
Israel's government, however, remained silent over the report, apparently seeking to keep the focus on international pressures and avoid turning the report into a specific showdown between Israel and Iran.
“This nation won’t retreat one iota from the path it is going,” Mr. Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in Shahr-e-Kord in central Iran. “Why are you ruining the prestige of the (U.N. nuclear) agency for absurd U.S. claims?”
The 13-page annex to the IAEA’s report, released Tuesday, included claims that while some of Iran’s activities have civilian as well as military applications, others are “specific to nuclear weapons.”
Among these were indications that Iran has conducted high-explosives testing and detonator development to set off a nuclear charge, as well as computer modeling of a core of a nuclear warhead. The report also cited preparatory work for a nuclear weapons test and development of a nuclear payload for Iran’s Shahab 3 intermediate-range missile — a weapon that can reach Israel.
“The Iranian nation is wise. It won’t build two bombs against 20,000 (nuclear) bombs you have,” he said in comments apparently directed at the West and others. “But it builds something you can’t respond to: ethics, decency, monotheism and justice.”
The U.S. and allies claim a nuclear-armed Iran could touch off a nuclear arms race among rival states, including Saudi Arabia, and directly threaten Israel. The West is seeking to use the report as leverage to possible tougher sanctions on Iran, but Israel and others have said military options have not been ruled out.
The bulk of the information in the IAEA report was a compilation of alleged findings that already have been partially revealed by the agency. But some of the information was new — including evidence of a large metal chamber at a military site for nuclear-related explosives testing. Iran has dismissed that, saying they were merely metal toilet stalls.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted lawmaker Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash as saying the report shows that IAEA “has no powers and moves in the direction” of the U.S. and allies. Another parliament member, Parviz Sorouri, accused IAEA chief Yukiya Amano of tarnishing the agency.
“The report was drawn up by Americans and read by Amano,” the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.
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