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Iran Refuses to Stop Nuclear Work as UN Deadline Passes

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed again to press ahead with the country's nuclear program, defying a United Nations demand that Iran cease its controversial nuclear activities this week.

The Iranian president said Wednesday that nuclear technology is important for Iran's "development and honor." He said Iran should stop other activities for 10 years in order to focus on the nuclear program.

The United Nations gave Iran 60 days to cease enriching uranium, counting from December 23 when the Security Council passed sanctions against Tehran.

Speaking in Berlin Wednesday , U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she is willing to meet her Iranian counterpart if Tehran suspends its controversial nuclear program.

Meanwhile, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA is expected to report later this week that Iran has not complied with the December 23 U.N. resolution.

The United States and other major powers suspect Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

In Washington, State Department officials say Iran has failed to heed the resolution and that they have begun consulting other Council members on a follow-up measure to increase pressure on Iran.

Although the 60-day grace period was to expire Wednesday, diplomats at the United Nations are giving Iran two months. That makes the actual deadline Friday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.