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Khamenei: Iran Must Not Yield to US Pressure on Nuclear Program - 2003-08-19

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says his country should never yield to U.S. pressure over its nuclear program.

In a speech late Monday, the Ayatollah said Iran's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and the Islamic Republic's religious principles prevent it from using weapons of mass destruction. He said the United States is treating other countries as if they were indebted to it. He said giving in to U.S. pressure or showing any sign of weakness would be a "grave strategic mistake" for Iran.

Tehran is under strong international pressure to prove that it is not developing nuclear weapons and to sign an Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that would allow U.N. inspectors to carryout surprise inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities.

Tehran denies developing nuclear weapons and says it is still discussing the inspection issue with representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency -- the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog body.

Observers say Iran's reformist government led by President Mohammad Khatami favors signing the Additional Protocol but conservatives are strongly against it. Some conservatives say Iran should pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- a move that would bar U.N. inspectors from visiting Iran's nuclear facilities.