President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Wednesday that Iran won’t retreat “one iota” from its nuclear program, denying claims that it seeks atomic weapons.
In his first reaction to the report, Ahmadinejad strongly criticized the agency - a day after it claimed Tehran was on the brink of developing a nuclear weapon - saying the IAEA is discrediting itself by siding with “absurd” US accusations.
In an address to thousands of people in Shahr-e-Kord in central Iran, he said: “This nation won’t retreat one iota from the path it is going,” he said. “Why are you ruining the prestige of the (UN nuclear) agency for absurd US claims?”
Ahmadinejad also repeated Iran’s claims that it doesn’t make sense to build nuclear weapons in a world already awash with atomic arms. “The Iranian nation is wise. It won’t build two bombs against 20,000 (nuclear) bombs you have,” he said in comments apparently directed at the West and others. “But it builds something you can’t respond to: Ethics, decency, monotheism and justice.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the IAEA report confirmed long-standing claims by Israel and Western countries that Iran is developing nuclear bombs.
Israeli officials are hopeful the international community will pass tough new sanctions that cripple Iran’s key energy sector or target its central bank, which would hinder its ability to conduct international trade.
In Paris, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said France would support boosting sanctions against Tehran to an “unprecedented scale” if Iran stonewalls investigations, even as Israel and others say that military options are still possible.
“We cannot accept this situation (of a nuclear-armed Iran), which would be a threat to stability and peace of the region and beyond,” he said on France’s RFI radio.
But Russia, which has veto-wielding power on the UN Security Council, said dialogue with Iran is the only way forward and new sanctions would be unacceptable.
“Any additional sanctions against Iran would be perceived by the international community as an instrument for regime change in Tehran,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told the Interfax news agency, adding that Russia “does not intend to consider such proposals.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry called the report a “biased” compilation of well-known facts intended to “juggle” public opinion, comparing it to US assertions that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction that later proved false.
Sergei Ryabkov told the Itar Tass news agency that “illegitimate use of force will have unpredictable and dire consequences” for Middle East and global security.
The UN Security Council has passed four sets of damaging sanctions on Iran, but Russia and China oppose further measures and are unlikely to change their minds despite the report’s findings.
The 13-page annex to the IAEA’s report released Tuesday included claims that while some of Iran’s activities have civilian as well as military applications, others are “specific to nuclear weapons.”
Among these were indications that Iran has conducted high explosives testing and detonator development to set off a nuclear charge, as well as computer modeling of a core of a nuclear warhead. The report also cited preparatory work for a nuclear weapons test, and development of a nuclear payload for Iran’s Shahab 3 intermediate-range missile - a weapon that can reach Israel.
Source: Arab News; Agencies