Bloomberg: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said it’s “unlikely” the United Nations Security Council will take action over his country’s nuclear program. By Marc Wolfensberger and Ladane Nasseri
Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said it’s “unlikely” the United Nations Security Council will take action over his country’s nuclear program.
Iran has so far rejected a Security Council request that it suspend uranium enrichment by Aug. 31. Ahmadinejad didn’t mention this deadline in remarks to reporters today.
Iran’s refusal to end production of nuclear fuel could open the way for the council to invoke its powers to impose economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
“I see it as unlikely that they want to use it,” the Iranian president said at a news conference in the capital, Tehran. “Using nuclear energy is Iran’s right and we want to use it according to international law.”
Ahmadinejad said Iran’s aims are “peaceful,” and that its reply to a European Union-led offer of incentives to end enrichment includes “legal, logical” positions. Iran “does not prevent other countries from asking questions but our reply is based on our rights,” he said.
Iran delivered the reply on Aug. 22. The response, in a document handed to representatives of the Security Council’s permanent members and Germany, doesn’t refer to the demand to end uranium enrichment, diplomats said.
The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of using its nuclear program to disguise the development of atomic weapons. Iran has insisted it wants nuclear power only to produce electricity.
Ahmadinejad today challenged U.S. President George W. Bush to a live and “uncensored” televised debate on “ways to get out of the standoffs.” Iran is willing to open a dialogue with the U.S., the Iranian leader said, if the U.S. government changes its “attitude.”
The U.S. severed diplomatic relation with the Islamic Republic after the 1979 embassy hostage-taking in Tehran.
If the Aug. 31 deadline passes without an Iranian agreement to halt uranium enrichment, the UN Security Council will then be faced with the problem of whether to impose economic sanctions. China and Russia, permanent members of the council with France, the U.K. and the U.S., have expressed caution about taking such a step.
Ahmadinejad on Aug. 26 opened a heavy-water production plant, part of the nuclear program that the Security Council wants curbed. The plant will produce heavy water to be used in a nuclear reactor that is under construction. Heavy-water reactors are run on uranium and produce deuterium as a by-product, which can be used to build a hydrogen bomb.
The UN International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna said June 8 that it can’t be sure that Iran isn’t hiding a nuclear- weapons program. Iran concealed nuclear work from IAEA inspectors for 18 years until 2003.
Iran doesn’t yet have a nuclear power plant in operation. It has already paid Russia as much as $1 billion to build a nuclear plant capable of generating about 1,000 megawatts of electricity in Bushehr. The construction, which has faced numerous delays, should be completed by the end of this year.