- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 11, 2006

TEHRAN — Iran’s hard-line president threatened yesterday to revise his policy of working within international atomic treaties, as diplomats in Europe said the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency had stripped most of its surveillance equipment from Iranian nuclear sites.

The diplomats, who asked for anonymity in exchange for revealing the confidential developments, said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threat was part of retaliatory measures announced by Iran that have left the International Atomic Energy Agency with only the most basic means to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities.

In Iran, thousands rallied across the nation yesterday to celebrate the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and show support for Iran’s “nuclear rights.”

State-run television called the nationwide demonstrations “a nuclear referendum” and showed broadcast footage of rallies in Iran’s major cities. Some young men wore white shrouds symbolizing their readiness to die for the country’s nuclear ambitions.

In a speech before tens of thousands massed in Azadi Square to mark the 27th anniversary of the revolution that brought a Muslim theocracy to power, Mr. Ahmadinejad focused on the building crisis surrounding Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

“The nuclear policy of the Islamic Republic so far has been peaceful. Until now, we have worked inside the agency (IAEA) and the NPT regulations,” he said, referring to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The crowd in the square chanted: “We would fight, we would die but we will not accept lowliness” — referring to Iran’s refusal to give in to outside pressure.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments were thought to be a threat to withdraw from the NPT.

Britain, Germany and France have led months of futile talks on behalf of the 25-nation European Union, but the United States has fostered suspicions that Iran’s civilian nuclear program is intended to produce nuclear weapons and not electricity, as Tehran insists.

Mr. Ahmadinejad — who has declared the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews during World War II a “myth” and that Israel should be “wiped off the map” — said the true holocaust was happening now in the Palestinian territories and Iraq.


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