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Ahmadinejad Declares Issue of Iranian Nuclear Program Closed

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a United Nations address Tuesday, said the issue of Iran's nuclear program is closed because of Tehran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA. He said Iran would consider further U.N. Security Council sanctions against his country completely illegal. VOA's David Gollust reports from our U.N. bureau.

The Iranian president struck a defiant note on the nuclear issue at the United Nations, where senior diplomats of the five permanent Security Council member countries and Germany will be meeting over the next few days on new sanctions against Tehran because of its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

Mr. Ahmadinejad held to Iran's longstanding position that its enrichment effort is a national right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that Iran's nuclear activities are entirely peaceful.

In a General Assembly policy address, and a combative news conference appearance later, he accused members of the Security Council of trying to politicize the issue and bully his country.

But he said the IAEA is the proper forum for dealing with the matter and said because of Iran's cooperation with the Vienna-based organization, the issue has become what he termed an ordinary agency matter and should be considered closed.

At the news conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad dismissed the prospect of new Security Council sanctions as a continuation of decades of hostility to Iran by the United States and allied powers.

"For 30 years, they've demonstrated their ability to make decisions that go against our nation," said Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "For years, they have in fact threatened our nation and threatened it. And today once again, the decisions for us, the decisions by the United States or France, are not important. What matters is that our nuclear activities are based within the legal framework under the supervision and inspection of the IAEA, according to the rules and regulations of the IAEA, which is the body responsible for this, and our program as such will continue."

Iran has defied two Security Council sanction resolutions demanding that it suspend an enrichment program the United States and European Union countries believe is weapons related.

Senior diplomats of the so-called P Five Plus One powers are to meet at the U.N. Wednesday and Thursday on a new sanctions resolution in preparation for a ministerial level meeting of the same grouping hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday.

In a U.N. address laced with religious references, Mr. Ahmadinejad also among other things urged reforms in the world body to reduce the power of the Security Council, which he said is dominated by the United States and others hostile to Iran.

At the press event he denied U.S. charges of Iranian interference in Iraq and refused to answer a question about alleged Iranian support for international terrorism in Lebanon and elsewhere.

By coincidence Mr. Ahmadinejad was preceded to the General Assembly rostrum by Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, who criticized Iran for failing to cooperate with his country's investigation of a 1994 bomb attack on a Buenos Aires Jewish center that killed or wounded nearly 400 people.

Argentine prosecutors have implicated Iranian officials and the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah in the attack. Heard through an interpreter in the U.N. speech, Mr. Kirchner said Iranian cooperation is long overdue.

"Interpol has asked for six Iranian and one Lebanese individual involved in these efforts, and we are launching an appeal here that during this General Assembly session we should ratify these measures," said President Kirchner. "And we hope that the Islamic Republic of Iran, within the framework of international law, will accept and respect the jurisdiction of Argentine justice and will work with Argentine judges to bring those individuals to justice."

Mr. Kirchner said Iran to date has not offered the cooperation sought by Argentina and said his government is asking U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and all U.N. members to intervene to get Iran to take what he termed the appropriate steps.

He said Argentina seeks only to learn the truth in the case and that all countries will be jeopardy in the absence of sustained, multi-lateral action against terrorism.

Iran's ambassador to Argentina said late last week that if Mr. Kirchner made such statement at the U.N., it would be interpreted as a sign Argentina supports war against Tehran.