Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted on Iran’s “right” to pursue its nuclear programme, rejecting the main demand of a United Nations Security Council resolution that sets a deadline of 21 February for compliance.
“The Iranian people will protect their nuclear rights until the end,” Ahmadinejad told supporters today at a rally in Iran’s northern Gilan province that was aired live by state television.
The Security Council unanimously voted on 23 December to impose sanctions on Iran over the programme, including a ban on the acquisition of materials and technology that might be used to build nuclear weapons. The UN also froze the assets of individuals and groups associated with the programme and gave Iran 60 days to halt uranium enrichment, the process by which the element can be made into a form usable in a reactor or a bomb.
The council’s five permanent members — the US, UK, Russia, China and France — plus Germany required that Iran suspend enrichment as a condition for further negotiations over the nuclear issue. The resolution calls for tougher sanctions if tomorrow’s deadline is not met.
The Islamic Republic has rejected the UN’s demand throughout the dispute or sought to add conditions.Iran “is in favor of talks and negotiations, but with just and equal conditions,” the Iranian president said at the rally in the city of Rasht. “If they want us to shut down our nuclear fuel enrichment facilities, it’s OK with us, but they should close down theirs as well.”
The US accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran, which holds the world’s second-largest oil and natural-gas reserves, denies it is seeking a bomb and says the aim of its program is to enrich uranium to fuel power stations as permitted under the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.