Iran Vows to Pursue Nuclear Program, Despite Speculation of Israeli Plans to Attack

Ahmadinejad advises U.S. and Israel to 'stop and be ashamed', as media frenzy debates consideration of military option; Iran president says UN nuclear agency chief is an American pawn.

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Iran would not stop its nuclear work, despite media speculation that Israel was considering military threats, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday.

"We advise the United States and its ally [Israel] to stop and be ashamed of [their threats] and be aware that Iran will not take one step back [from its nuclear program]," Ahmadinejad said in a meeting with students in Tehran.

Ahmadinejad at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in 2008.Credit: AP

"Anyone acting against Iran would gravely regret" a military attack, he said according to official news agency IRNA.

Ahmadinejad also criticized the head of the UN's nuclear agency as an American pawn, in the run-up to its expected release of evidence which purports to document Tehran's nuclear weapons program.

In remarks broadcast on state television Ahmadinejad said that International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano was simply repeating U.S. allegations.

"He delivers the papers that American officials hand on him," Ahmadinejad said."I am sorry that a person is heading the agency who has no power by himself and violates the agency's regulations, too," the Iranian president said.

Ahmadinejad was speaking ahead of the publication Wednesday of a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], which is expected to disclose new details of Iranian efforts to build a computer model of a nuclear warhead.

Western nuclear experts have told Haaretz, in anticipation of the IAEA report, that Iran will be ready to build a nuclear bomb within a few months if it desires.

Israel, the U.S. and some other Western countries were awaiting the release of the report before considering harsher steps against Tehran, while media reports have speculated that Israel may launch a military attack on Iran's nuclear sites.

"We do not accept any accusations by the IAEA, whose head unfortunately has no authority and just repeats what the US tells him to say," Ahmadinejad said.

The Iranian president once again reiterated that Tehran was not after nuclear weapons and was pursuing a civil nuclear program in line with international regulations.

The West fears however that Iran has been using the peaceful projects as a cover, and plans to use the same technology to make a nuclear bomb.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said Tuesday that neither the IAEA, the U.S., nor Israel had any proof that Iran was working on computer models of nuclear warheads, and said the accusations were solely made to pressure Iran.

Iran says that, as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, it has the legitimate right to pursue a civil nuclear program.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday played down speculation that Israel intended to strike Iranian nuclear facilities, saying it had not decided to embark on any military operation.

"War is not a picnic. We want a picnic. We don't want a war," Barak told Israel Radio ahead of the release this week of the IAEA report on Iran's nuclear activity. "[Israel] had not yet decided to embark on any operation."

But he said Israel had to prepare for "uncomfortable situations" and ultimately bore responsibility for its own security. All options to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions should
remain open, he said.

"I estimate that it will be quite a harsh report ... it does not surprise Israel, we have been dealing with these issues for years," Barak said. "We are probably at the last opportunity for coordinated, international, lethal sanctions that will force Iran to stop."

France and Russia this week both warned Israel against choosing a military opinion for dealing with Iran, cautioning it could cause irreparable damage to the region.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: אחמדינג'אד: מנכ"ל סבא"א - כלי שרת בידי האמריקאים



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