Iran Nuclear NewsDefiant Iran upbeat ahead of nuclear report

Defiant Iran upbeat ahead of nuclear report

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AFP: Iran on Friday remained defiant and positive ahead of a crucial UN nuclear watchdog report on its contested atomic programme, telling the UN Security Council to stay out of the nuclear crisis. TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran on Friday remained defiant and positive ahead of a crucial UN nuclear watchdog report on its contested atomic programme, telling the UN Security Council to stay out of the nuclear crisis.

Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani told worshippers at the weekly Muslim prayers in Tehran that the Security Council — which has already imposed two sets of sanctions against Iran — was not competent to handle its nuclear file.

His comments come as Western powers stepped up efforts for a third UN Security Council resolution against Tehran to punish its defiance in refusing to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment activities.

“The United States, Israel and Britain — in other words Jewish Zionism and Christian Zionism — are trying to resist in the face of Islam and (Iran’s) Islamic system,” the top cleric said in the sermon broadcast on state radio.

“They say we need to go to the Security Council, and to adopt a resolution against Iran.

But “the Council does not have the competence to examine a scientific dossier. The Council should examine security issues and the problems that you (world powers) created yourselves.”

“We insist on our path and we will not make a step back,” he said.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei was to release his latest report on the Iranian nuclear programme to the IAEA’s governing board in Vienna later on Friday, Iranian state media reported.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili has called a news conference to respond to the report.

The contents of the report will be important on determining the future course of the nuclear standoff amid Western calls for a further set of UN sanctions against Tehran.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful but Western powers fear Tehran could use uranium enrichment technology, which can be used both to make nuclear fuel and the core of an atomic bomb, to make a nuclear weapon.

Parliament’s foreign affairs commission head Alaeddin Boroujerdi predicted the IAEA report would be “positive” for Iran and show that past ambiguities about its nuclear drive had been cleared up, the state news agency IRNA said.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday reaffirmed his conviction that Iran’s nuclear case was now closed, IRNA reported. “The enemies should know that Iranian nation will not back down even one inch,” he said.

The IAEA and Iran last August agreed a timetable for Iran to give answers over aspects of its past nuclear activities that had caused concern and ElBaradei’s report was set to focus on this cooperation.

Despite a four-year probe into Tehran’s atomic drive, the IAEA has so far been unable to determine whether the programme is peaceful and the cooperation deal was aimed at finally drawing this investigation to a conclusion.

Washington has also never ruled out using military action to bring Tehran to heel. But a report by the US intelligence community that Iran shelved a nuclear weapons drive has for the moment taken the heat out of the crisis.

Security Council powers Britain and France on Thursday formally introduced an amended package of new sanctions in the hope of agreeing a new resolution next week.

The draft includes an outright travel ban by officials involved in Tehran’s nuclear and missile programmes and inspections of shipments to and from Iran in case of suspicions of prohibited goods.

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