Iran Nuclear NewsBefore U.N. vote, Iran says atomic work won't stop

Before U.N. vote, Iran says atomic work won’t stop

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Reuters: World powers will not prevent Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions, the Iranian president said on Friday, a day before a possible vote on a third round of U.N. sanctions against the Islamic Republic. By Edmund Blair

TEHRAN (Reuters) – World powers will not prevent Iran from pursuing its nuclear ambitions, the Iranian president said on Friday, a day before a possible vote on a third round of U.N. sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Western envoys at the U.N. Security Council said they expected a vote on Saturday on a new resolution because Iran had refused to halt work the West believes is aimed at making nuclear bombs. Iran denies this and says sanctions are illegal.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, facing a popularity test in a March parliamentary election, has been criticised by some of his Iranian opponents for strident speeches they say isolate Iran.

But a senior cleric on Friday backed him and his handling of the atomic file, the latest supportive remark from Iran’s powerful clerical establishment before the March 14 vote.

“The Iranian nation will have the final victory in the nuclear arena. No power will be able to obstruct the movement of the Iranian nation,” Ahmadinejad told a military gathering in Tehran, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The president previously said no amount of U.N. sanctions would deter Iran from what he insists is a peaceful programme designed at mastering technology to make electricity so the Islamic Republic can export more of its oil and gas reserves.

Ahmadinejad has said this month’s report by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran’s nuclear plans was a victory because it said several suspicions about Tehran’s aims had been resolved. But it also said some concerns remained.

“The victory you (Iranians) are experiencing is because of the courage of the Iranian president,” said Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, head of Iran’s conservative Guardian Council, a body which vets and can bar those seeking a seat in parliament.

‘TASTED POVERTY’

Parliament does not decide major policy but the result may indicate Ahmadinejad’s chances for re-election in 2009. Reformists opposed to the president accuse the Guardian Council of barring many of their hopefuls. The council denies any bias.

Jannati, in the Friday prayers sermon broadcast on state radio, urged voters to pick those who had “tasted poverty”.

Ahmadinejad, the son of a blacksmith, has played on his humble beginnings and in the 2005 presidential race called for sharing out Iran’s oil wealth more fairly, a campaign slogan that helped secure the backing of many of Iran’s poor.

But his economic and spending policies have since been criticised by some as inflation has risen to 19 percent.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who does not endorse any political party, praised the president on Tuesday for his handling of the nuclear issue and criticised those who had counselled compromise with the West in the past.

Khamenei has the final say in all matters of state, including atomic policy, under Iran’s system of clerical rule.

The five permanent Security Council members — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — and Germany, which is not on the council, agreed on a draft resolution on Jan. 22.

U.S. and British envoys expect a council vote on Saturday.

Four of the 15-members of the Security Council have voiced scepticism about the resolution. That leaves 11, including the five permanent members, supporting it.

The draft resolution calls for more travel and financial restrictions on named Iranian individuals and companies and makes some restrictions mandatory. Two earlier sanctions rounds were approved unanimously in December 2006 and March 2007.

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