Iran Nuclear NewsIran’s leader stands by nuclear plans; military to hold...

Iran’s leader stands by nuclear plans; military to hold exercises

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New York Times: Iran’s internal battle over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s defiant rhetoric on Iran’s nuclear program continued to simmer on Sunday, with the president repeating his vow to ignore international sanctions and a moderate daily newspaper warning of Iran’s increasing isolation. The New York Times

By NAZILA FATHI
Published: January 22, 2007

TEHRAN, Jan. 21 — Iran’s internal battle over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s defiant rhetoric on Iran’s nuclear program continued to simmer on Sunday, with the president repeating his vow to ignore international sanctions and a moderate daily newspaper warning of Iran’s increasing isolation.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament, Mr. Ahmadinejad described the United Nations Security Council sanctions resolution as “a rusty instrument” that “has no effect.”

“The resolution was born dead,” he said. “Even if they issue 10 more such resolutions it will not affect Iran’s economy and politics.”

He promised to continue Iran’s nuclear program, saying other countries “should know that the nuclear program is our red line,” the television news reported.

He made those comments days after two hard-line daily newspapers close to Iran’s supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Mr. Ahmadinejad to distance himself from the nuclear issue, a sign that the president’s his political capital may be declining as his country comes under increasing international pressure. The newspapers accused him of using inflammatory language.

On Sunday, a third newspaper, the daily Kargozaran, which represents the views of moderate forces in the country, warned that international opposition against Iran was reaching an alarming level.

“It appears that the pressure against Iran is increasing, and, unlike an optimistic view, there is a tangible tendency among the countries in the region and in the international community toward America’s policies against Iran,” Jalal Khoshchehreh, the foreign editor, wrote.

The Security Council passed a sanctions resolution on Dec. 23 intended to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment and missile programs. The United States and some European nations have said that Iran’s nuclear program is for creating nuclear weapons. Iran contends that the program is peaceful.

In what appears to be a response to increasing Western military pressure, the Revolutionary Guards will test-fire missiles in a three-day military exercise expected to begin Monday, state-run television said. The military will fire Zelzal and Fajr-5 missiles near Garmsar, 60 miles southeast of Tehran.

The maneuvers, the first since the resolution was passed, followed the recent American decision to deploy a second aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, effectively doubling the United States presence there, and to extend deployments of Patriot antimissile defense systems in Kuwait and Qatar. The British Navy is also sending more ships to the gulf.

Also on Sunday, Mr. Ahmadinejad proposed a budget for the next year of the Iranian calendar, which begins on March 21, based on a significantly lower price of oil. Iran’s budget is heavily dependent on oil revenues, and Mr. Ahmadinejad’s budget last year was based on a price of $44 a barrel.

The budget he presented to Parliament on Sunday reduces the price to $33, allowing a wide cushion in case oil prices continue to fall from their current level of about $52 a barrel.

“It is signal to our enemies, saying, ‘We are ready, and we will manage the country even if you lower the oil prices,’ ” Mr. Ahmadinejad said.

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