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Iran Vows Not to Halt Nuclear Enrichment


Iran's president says he will not halt his country's uranium enrichment program, despite international pressure to do so. U.N. Nuclear Chief Mohamed ElBaradei is in Tehran for talks aimed at defusing tension over the nuclear program.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he would ignore international calls to freeze Iran's uranium enrichment program. He said the world will have to deal with Iran from now on as a nuclear power. The state news agency quoted him as saying that Iran's answer to those who are angry about Iran's uranium enrichment is this: "Be angry, and die of this anger."

The remarks made late Wednesday dim hopes for a breakthrough as the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency arrived in Tehran.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters there is still time for a negotiated solution to the standoff.

"I still believe that the time is right for a political solution," he said. "I believe the only way to resolve the outstanding issues is through negotiation."

Iran announced Tuesday that it has successfully enriched uranium to the level needed for nuclear power plants. Officials say they are currently using 164 gas centrifuges, but plan to expand the program to 3,000 centrifuges by the end of the year.

The U.N. Security Council has told Iran to freeze all uranium enrichment before the end of the month. ElBaradei is supposed to report to the Security Council on April 28. On his current trip to Tehran, he said he is seeking what he called "more active cooperation" from Iran.

"I am also going to discuss how we can bring Iran in line with the request of the international community," he said, "for Iran to take confidence building measures for a period time, including suspension of enrichment and reprocessing related activity until confidence is built and until outstanding issues have been clarified."

Iran's leap to uranium enrichment is seen as a move to strengthen its negotiating position with the West. The United States believes Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful, and it only wants nuclear energy.

Iran's latest announcement has drawn criticism from Europe, the United States, Russia and China. China is sending its top nuclear envoy to Iran and Russia in hopes of defusing the crisis.

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