Sunday Telegraph: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed that Iran would not be intimidated by the West over its nuclear
ambitions as he was formally sworn in as the country’s president yesterday. Hopes of finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis were dashed when Iran rejected a European Union package of incentives in return for scrapping its uranium enrichment programme. Sunday Telegraph
By Colin Freeman
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed that Iran would not be intimidated by the West over its nuclear ambitions as he was formally sworn in as the country’s president yesterday.
Hopes of finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis were dashed when Iran rejected a European Union package of incentives in return for scrapping its uranium enrichment programme. Iran – which said recently that it planned to restart its uranium conversion plant in the city of Isfahan, south of Teheran – faces the threat of international economic sanctions and may be referred to the United Nations Security Council.
As he took the oath of office after his victory in the election in June, Mr Ahmadinejad gave a brief address that referred indirectly to the growing crisis.
“We are logical and respect international duties, but will not give into those who want to violate our rights,” the president said. “The Iranian nation cannot be intimidated. I don’t know why some countries do not want to understand the fact that the Iranian people do not tolerate force.”
Teheran’s foreign ministry described the EU’s trade, security and technology incentives as “unacceptable”, plunging British, French and German diplomats, who had spent nine months in negotiations, into despair. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, refused to comment until the EU received official notification of Iran’s rejection.
The EU proposal, which had won unexpected backing from the United States, would have allowed Teheran to pursue peaceful nuclear energy work provided that it refrained from fuel cycle work that could help to make weapons. As a sweetener, it guaranteed Iran a long-term supply of enriched uranium from other countries and improved trade measures for its isolated economy.
Iran denies US accusations that its nuclear programme is a smokescreen for making weapons.
The UN nuclear watchdog, the 35-nation International Atomic Energy Agency, will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday at which Iran will be formally warned not to resume uranium enrichment at Isfahan. During recent negotiations, Iranian officials agreed to suspend work at the plant, where an operation to convert raw uranium into enriched gas was suspected to be part of research programmes for an atom bomb.
Resumption of the work could lead to the IAEA referring Iran to the Security Council.
A UN inspection team is due to arrive at the Isfahan plant in the next few days to install cameras and monitor any future activity.
Announcing Teheran’s decision on state radio yesterday morning, a foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said that the plan was rejected because of Europe’s failure to include Teheran’s right to enrich uranium.
“We had already announced that any plan has to recognise Iran’s right to enrich uranium,” he said.
He also denied that there was any “justification” for the meeting by the IAEA. “It’s to bring political pressure on Iran. It’s a psychological war,” he said.