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Iran's President Defiant on Nuclear Program


Iran's president on Saturday gave a speech dismissing criticism of the country's controversial nuclear activities. Amid mounting suspicions over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, the country is under international pressure to be more open and cooperative on its nuclear activities.

Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, addressed thousands of people during a commemoration for a volunteer militia, known as Basij. He lashed out at countries that question Iran's nuclear activities and said they have no right to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear technology.

The United States believes Iran is secretly pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

On Thursday, the 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, meeting in Vienna, put off referring Iran to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.

But the U.S. representative to the IAEA, Gregory Schulte, warned in Vienna that referral to the U.N. Security Council remains an option, if Iran fails to cooperate in a number of areas, including resuming talks with France, Germany and Britain, the so-called EU-Three. "The report to the Security Council will come, and it will come at a time of our choosing and that time will be soon, if Iran continues to defy the board's calls to cooperate fully with the IAEA, to suspend those activities that give the world such concern and to resume negotiations with the EU-three on the basis of the Paris accords," he said.

Diplomats say talks with Iran and the EU-three could resume in early December, if Tehran is ready to discuss a proposal to move uranium-enrichment to Russia.

Peter Jenkins, chief British delegate to the IAEA, called on Iran Thursday to study the proposal, and increase cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. "Time is running out. We urge Iran to consider the Russian idea seriously, and also to step up its cooperation with the IAEA," he said.

Mr. Jenkins also said Britain reserves the right to call for a special session of the IAEA board before the next regular session to discuss Iran, if necessary.