- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2006

NEW YORK — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed yesterday not to abandon the country’s nuclear program, challenging the United Nations one day before the U.N. nuclear agency is to issue a key report on Iran’s efforts to refine uranium into nuclear fuel.

“We want nuclear technology for peace and progress of nations, and if some believe that they can prevent us with psychological warfare and resolutions, they are mistaken,” he told a rally in northern Iran.

Uranium can be processed into fuel for an nuclear reactor or to make atomic bombs.

“We have obtained the technology for producing nuclear fuel. … No one can take it away from our nation,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said.

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is to report today on compliance with a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Iran to stop enriching uranium.

The Bush administration, which has been laying the groundwork for a tougher Security Council resolution demanding that Iran give up its fuel-enrichment activities, said the council’s credibility is at stake.

“What is clear is that it is highly unlikely that Iran is going to accede to the demands of the international community,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Bulgaria yesterday, at a conference of envoys from NATO and the European Union.

“In order to be credible, the Security Council of course has to act,” Miss Rice said.

U.S. diplomats say they will renew efforts in the Security Council to secure a legally binding resolution demanding that Iran curtail enrichment activities.

Such a resolution could boost the IAEA recommendations to the force of international law and pave the way for military or economic measures.

Britain and France, who with Germany have been negotiating with Iran over the nuclear program for nearly three years, are supportive.

But Russia and China, which like Britain, France and the United States have veto powers in the Security Council, are reluctant to approve a legally binding resolution.

An exiled opposition group said Iran was working at secret military sites to develop a better type of centrifuge than the “P-1” machines at its Natanz enrichment plant, which would allow it to make fuel for an atomic bomb faster than current estimates.

The Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, which has reported accurately on hidden Iranian nuclear sites in the past but whose claims could not be verified, said Iran was researching “P-2” centrifuges in secret areas of Natanz and a site near Tehran.

In New York, meanwhile, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Javad Zarif, said Tehran had offered a comprehensive package designed to allay fears about its nuclear production.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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