Ahmadinejad: Iran Won't Yield to Pressure to Halt Nuke Program

Tehran officially asks for permission to join Security Council debate on Iran sanctions.

Iran will not yield to international pressure to abandon its nuclear fuel cycle, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday, a day after the United Nations agreed on new sanctions against Tehran over its atomic program.

"We have a nuclear fuel cycle. We will not give it up under pressure. By holding the [UN] meetings you [Western powers [cannot block the Iranian nation's path," Ahmadinejad told a rally in the central town of Khatam, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Iran's United Nations Mission sent a letter to the Security Council president Thursday officially requesting permission for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak during its discussion on a resolution that would impose new sanctions on Tehran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, a council diplomat said.

Iranian state television quoted government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham on Sunday as saying Ahmadinejad wanted to take his case for pursuing nuclear power before the council as it considers the sanctions resolution.

The letter informed South Africa's UN Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, the current council president, that Ahmadinejad would head the Iranian delegation, the council diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the letter has not yet been made public.

Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, would only confirm that the U.S. has received official visa requests for an Iranian delegation.

He refused to disclose any details, but the council diplomat said Iran asked for visas for 38 people to accompany Ahmadinejad. The letter gave no date for Ahmadinejad's visit, the diplomat said.

Kumalo said Tuesday that under Security Council guidelines, if a member state has an issue before the council and requests to appear before the Security Council, this must be considered.

"That's why I've said I think it would be difficult for us to deny the president of Iran, or the minister of Iran to appear, because we spend all this time fighting on a resolution ... so maybe somebody else needs to join, too, in the fight," Kumalo said.

Iran has rejected UN demands that it halt enrichment, insisting its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at producing energy. The U.S. and its European allies are concerned its real aim is to produce nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad: Security Council is 'illegitimate'Earlier Thursday, Ahmadinejad called the United Nations Security Council an illegitimate body and said that any new sanctions imposed on his country would only stimulate it to be self-sufficient and further develop nuclear technology.

Five permanent Security Council nations - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - along with Germany on Thursday agreed on a package of new sanctions against Iran that include an embargo on arms exports and an asset freeze on more individuals and companies associated with Tehran's nuclear and missile programs.

Speaking after the news of the Security Council agreement, Ahmadinejad told a rally in the central city of Meibod: "These threats won't have one iota of effect on the strong will of the Iranian nation."

"You cannot force the Iranian nation to retreat on its nuclear program," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted him as saying.

Hours earlier, the president told a gathering in the central town of Ardakan that the Security Council today has no legitimacy.

"What are you seeking to prevent [Iran] from achieving?" Ahmadinejad said in Ardakan. "Today, the Iranian nation fully possesses the nuclear fuel cycle. If all of you gather and also invite your ancestors from hell, you will not be able to stop the Iranian nation."

The comments were Ahmadinejad's first reaction to the sanctions agreement against Tehran for failing to halt its uranium enrichment which the West fears is used for nuclear arms making.

The draft resolution hammered out by the six world powers will now be presented to the 10 non-permanent Security Council nations who have been left out of negotiations.

"We have an agreement and I will introduce a text on behalf of the six," Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said after a meeting of ambassadors from the six countries.

In December, the Security Council voted unanimously to impose limited sanctions against Iran for its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment. It ordered all countries to stop supplying Iran with materials and technology that could contribute to its nuclear and missile programs and to freeze assets of 10 key Iranian companies and 12 individuals related to those programs.

The council said it would consider further nonmilitary sanctions if Iran refused to suspend enrichment. Iran's response was to accelerate its enrichment program.