BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a summit of regional leaders Friday that Iran’s adversaries must “begin respecting the people of Iran” and repeated his nation’s assertion that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.
In a speech to the Economic Cooperation Organization, the Iranian leader said his country’s “adversaries are waging a psychological war and trying to establish a nuclear apartheid to prevent our people from exercising their inalienable rights.”
“I advise them not to repeat the experiences of the past and begin respecting the people of Iran,” Ahmadinejad said.
The president again asserted that his nation is only aiming to develop the technology for production of nuclear energy. “Our nuclear programs are solely for peaceful purposes…. I declare that the baseless accusations leveled against us by the bullying powers of the world will by no means change the resolve of our nation to move forward on the path to advancement and progress,” he said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency last week issued a report saying Iran had not complied with a U.N. Security Council call for it to abandon uranium enrichment, which can be used to develop both nuclear fuel and nuclear weapons.
That laid the groundwork for Western members of the Security Council to circulate a draft resolution demanding Iran abandon enrichment or face the threat of unspecified further measures, a possible reference to sanctions.
Russia, which is building the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, has aimed to defuse the dispute by proposing that enrichment of Iran’s uranium be done in Russia, which in principle could allow outside control to ensure that uranium is enriched only to the level needed for power plant reactors rather than the higher level needed for weapons.
The Iranian Embassy in Moscow said that Russia’s proposal remains on the negotiating table, though Russian officials have said that the Iranians had so far reacted coolly to the initiative.
Tehran supports any approach that “takes into consideration its right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including the right to enrich uranium,” the embassy said in a statement dated Wednesday but made available to the media on Friday.
“Thus, the Russian proposal, as reflected in the statements of the official representative of the Foreign Ministry of our country, remains on the negotiating table,” the embassy said.
Ahmadinejad said the ECO countries, which also include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan, should step up their efforts to cooperate “under the present circumstances mainly characterized by the efforts of the big powers to consolidate their domination and influence.”