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Iran will press ahead with nuclear work

By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN (Reuters) – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday Iran would not retreat from its right to nuclear technology and that a U.N. resolution imposing sanctions on Iran was “invalid.”

“The Iranian nation is wise and will stick to its nuclear work and is ready to defend it completely,” Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech to a rally in the southern city of Ahvaz.

“The U.N. resolution against Iran’s atomic work has no validity for Iranians. It is illegal and politically motivated.”

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on December 23 to impose sanctions on Iran’s trade in sensitive nuclear materials and technology in an attempt to stop uranium enrichment work that could produce material that could be used in bombs.

Ahmadinejad said some world powers were bullying Iran over its nuclear program. “If bullying powers … want to resist (Iranians’ will), we will give them a historic slap in the face,” he said, as the crowd chanted “Death to America.”

Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, insists it wants to produce fuel for nuclear power plants and dismisses charges it is trying to produce nuclear weapons.

Government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham, echoing the tough line taken by Iranian leaders, indicated on Tuesday that Iran might cold-shoulder the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by quitting the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“It is up to the government to decide whether it wants to pull out of the NPT, if pressured,” Elham told a weekly news conference.

Iran’s parliament reacted to the U.N. sanctions by passing a bill on Wednesday obliging the government to “revise” its level of cooperation with the IAEA and to accelerate its drive to master nuclear technology.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final say in nuclear and other matters and he, like Ahmadinejad, has insisted Iran will not give up its atomic plans.

Ahmadinejad said Iran’s nuclear program was not a threat to Middle East stability.

“Iran’s power is not a threat to any regional country … Our power is at the service of the region’s peace, stability and development,” he said, speaking in the capital of Khuzestan province, the heartland of Iran’s oil industry.

U.S. and British officials have accused Iran of aiding terrorism and armed groups inside Iraq, undermining the Lebanese government and blocking Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Ahmadinejad accused the United States and Britain, which led the invasion of Iraq in 2003, of creating tension in the region. “By imposing insecurity and ethnic clashes in Iraq, they want to strengthen their presence in the region,” he said. “But sooner or later the occupiers will have to leave Iraq.”


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