TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran Thursday rejected as “unjust” a decision by the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency to refer its nuclear program file to the U.N Security Council, and said it won’t be bullied into abandoning its pursuit of nuclear energy.
“The people of Iran will not accept coercion and unjust decisions by international organizations,” Iranian television quoted hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying during a visit to Iran’s western province of Lorestan. “Enemies cannot force the Iranian people to relinquish their rights.”
“The era of bullying and brutality is over,” he told a crowd of supporters.
On Wednesday, the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded a three-day meeting in Vienna on Iran’s nuclear program, formally opening the path to Security Council action. Soon after, IAEA chief Mohamed Elbaradei sent a Feb. 27 report on Iran’s status to the council.
The U.N. Security Council was expected to debate the issue next week.
Tehran’s newspapers published news of the agency’s decision on the front pages of their Thursday editions, but only the official Persian-language daily Iran had a comment on the latest development. The IAEA decision, it said in an editorial, was “a message of weakness and failure” by the organization.
The United States has warned of “meaningful consequences” if Iran does not back away from an international confrontation over its nuclear program to develop nuclear fuel that could be used for weapons. Washington and its European allies want Iran to give up altogether uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel to generate electricity or materials for a nuclear bomb.
Iran has rejected the demand, saying it will never give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.