TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Wednesday his country will resist Western pressures and will complete its nuclear program, a day before a key vote by the U.N. nuclear watchdog likely to put Iran before the Security Council.
“In nuclear energy, our nation will continue its path until full realization of its rights,” Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in southern Iran. “Nuclear energy is our right, and we will resist until this right is fully realized,” he said.
His speech was broadcast live on state-run television. He was speaking in Bushehr, the site of Iran’s only nuclear power plant where Russia is putting the finishing touches. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said late Tuesday that Iran would end snap inspections of its facilities by U.N. monitors as of Saturday, if Tehran is reported to the Security Council.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board of governors will meet in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday, where Iran’s nuclear program may be reported to the Security Council. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council reached surprising agreement Tuesday that Iran should be hauled before that powerful body over its disputed nuclear program.
In his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, U.S. President George W. Bush said the regime in Iran “is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons.”
Bush said the United States “will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.”
But Mottaki warned that reporting or referring Iran to the Security Council would cause Iran to stop cooperation. “If it happens, the government will be required under the law to end the suspension of all nuclear activities it has voluntarily halted,” Mottaki said.
“The first victim will be the the additional protocol (more in-depth inspections). If it happens, Iran will definitely terminate its cooperation (with the IAEA) as of Saturday, February 4,” he said.
Ahmadinejad also said Wednesday that Iran won’t give in to “some bully countries.”
“Our nation can’t give in to the coercion of some bully countries who imagine they are the whole world and see themselves equal to the entire globe,” he said.
His speech drew chants of “Nuclear energy is our right” from the crowd.
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said Tuesday that a move to the council, whether notification or reporting, would “be nconstructive and the end of diplomacy.”
Yet despite that tough line, Iran has also signaled its willingness to cooperate over its nuclear program. It provided the U.N. watchdog this week with an extensive document obtained by Iran on the nuclear black market, which the IAEA said served no other purpose than to make an atomic warhead.
The documents were handed over by Iran in an apparent last-minute attempt to stay out of the Security Council, according to diplomats in Vienna.
The document described how to cast fissile uranium into the hemispherical shape of warheads, diplomats in Vienna said, speaking on condition of anonymity in exchange for revealing the confidential information.
Iran said it received the document from members of the nuclear black market network. It claimed it did not ask for the document but was given it anyway as part of other black market purchases.
The Europeans and Russians have insisted the opportunity for negotiations was not lost, even after envoys from Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States reached a deal in London overnight recommending the IAEA report Iran to the U.N. Security Council.
Under IAEA rules, a nation can be reported to the Security Council or the U.N. body can be notified of a case. Notification is less serious but the Europeans have not made clear which step they intend to take.
Iran, however, said that in either case, its response would be the same: the resumption of suspended nuclear activity and a halt to surprise IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities allowed under a deal called the Additional Protocol.