First Published: 2006-02-01

Iran poised to retaliate against UN referral

Ahmadinejad vows his country will continue on the road to victory, labels Bush warmonger who should be put on trial.


Middle East Online

By Stefan Smith - TEHRAN

Defiant to the pressure

Iran said Wednesday it was poised to retaliate against the reporting of its disputed nuclear programme to the Security Council by kick-starting sensitive fuel work and blocking UN inspections.

In a barrage of threats that raise the stakes in the long-running dispute, firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also vowed his country would "continue on the road to victory" and labelled US President George W. Bush a warmonger who should be put on trial.

"If Iran's case is referred or reported to the Security Council ... Iran's cooperation will decrease," top national security official Ali Larijani told a news conference.

"The government will be obliged to remove suspensions, which includes industrial-scale enrichment, and it will do so," he said, asserting that a massive enrichment plant at Natanz in central Iran was "ready for operation".

"Inspections will be restricted. They will not have the right to go to military sites which we had so far allowed them to go to. Some of their cameras will be taken down," Larijani said of the now three-year-old International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigation of the country.

Iran says it only wants to enrich uranium to make reactor fuel, but the process can be extended to make weapons-grade material. Tehran prompted the current crisis by resuming enrichment research on January 10.

The warnings came as world powers including Russia agreed on a draft IAEA resolution that would report Iran to the Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions.

The Vienna-based IAEA's 35-nation board is to consider the resolution on Thursday.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Iran should "see this agreed position by the leaders of the international community not as a threat but as ... a final opportunity for Iran to put itself back on track".

But Larijani said Iran "does not see any rationale to stop nuclear fuel research, even for one day" -- ruling out the one move that could save it from ending up in New York.

"Those who possess stocks of nuclear arms meet together and take decisions and think that the Iranian people will submit to their decisions," Ahmadinejad fumed earlier in a speech in the south of the country.

"Our people will not bow to a few tyrannical countries who think they are the whole world," said Ahmadinejad, accusing world powers of treating Iranians like "a second-rate people with no culture".

He also lashed out at US President George W. Bush, who in his State of the Union address branded the Islamic republic "a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people".

"You who support the Zionist puppet regime, you who support the destruction of Palestinian homes, you have no right to talk about liberty or human rights," shouted Ahmadinejad, who has already called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" or moved as far away as Alaska.

"God willing, in the near future we will judge you in a people's tribunal," he said of Bush.

Larijani also appeared to be bracing for an escalation of the crisis, saying Iran was no longer even insisting on having more time for negotiation "because we have prepared ourselves for another scenario".

He said his talks earlier Wednesday with Russian and Chinese deputy foreign ministers also failed to bear fruit: "They had a point of view on solving the issue, but we had a different point of view."

"The last time they talked of sanctions, the price of oil increased," he said of the threat of tough UN action, adding: "Do not play with the national pride of Iranians. The situation will change and your interests in the region will be in danger."

In recent weeks Iran has been brandishing its close links with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah and firebrand Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr.

"Any aggression against Iran's peaceful nuclear installations will receive an extremely quick and destructive response from the armed forces," Iran's Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar also warned.

The warning came just days after the head of the Revolutionary Guards also issued a reminder that Iran had ballistic missiles capable of hitting Israel and US bases in the region.

Iran claims it is cooperating fully with an IAEA investigation, although the latest IAEA report shows Tehran refusing to give agency inspectors all the information or interviews they want and possessing a document whose only use would be in making nuclear weapons.

Larijani played down the importance of the document, saying it "can be found on the Internet".


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