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Iranian Leader Sounds Defiant Note on Nuclear Program

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country will eventually produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale and denounced his critics as bullies. He was speaking during at a summit meeting of regional leaders in Azerbaijan.

In a speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad reasserted what he called Iran's right to develop its essential nuclear program as it wants, despite international criticism.

The Iranian leader says his country will continue until it can manage industrial-scale production of nuclear fuel for atomic power stations.

He also denounced those countries which he says want to halt the program, accusing them of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.

The Iranian president was speaking in Azerbaijan to leaders from a regional economic group that also includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, and former Soviet Central Asian states.

The speech was delivered behind closed doors, but a text of its content was reported in various media outlets, including Russian television.

His comments came as Western powers continue to push for a U.N. resolution that would legally require Iran to halt all uranium enrichment.

Mr. Ahmadinejad also said Iran is willing to put its program under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

However, the IAEA reported last week that Iran had failed to comply with demands to halt enrichment, passing the matter on to the U.N. Security Council.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Russia's view that the IAEA should be the only institution to deal with Iran.

He said inspections have not yet determined that Iran has or soon will have the technology to build nuclear weapons, as some Western countries allege.