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President: Iran not to retreat "one iota" in maintaining nuclear rights
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12:07, February 24, 2008

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday that his country will not retreat "one iota" in maintaining its nuclear rights, while world powers are mulling over a proposed third UN Security Council resolution to punish Tehran's defiance over its nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad made the remarks in his live interview with state television late on Saturday, one day after International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei circulated his latest report on Iran's nuclear program to the IAEA Board of Governors.

"We've said that our red line is the nuclear rights of the Iranian nation and we will not retreat one iota," Ahmadinejad vowed in the TV interview, adding Iran's nuclear program will continue as the UN Security Council could spend "100 years passing resolutions" against Tehran.

"If they want to continue with that path (of imposing sanctions), we will not be harmed. They could spend 100 years passing resolutions," he said.

Ahmadinejad said referring Iran's nuclear issue to the UN Security Council was a "mistake" and the United States and its allies should "apologize" for that.

"So no concession would be given to them," Ahmadinejad said. "They've made a mistake and they should make up for their past blunder and apologize for what they did."

"They should not ask us for concessions in order to make up for their past mistake," he added.

The UN nuclear watchdog said Friday Iran had clarified the majority of open issues in its nuclear programs but the agency was still unable to give a definite verdict on Tehran's nuclear ambitions as the progress is not enough.

Western countries accused Iran of using a civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons, a charge repeatedly denied by Tehran.

The UN Security Council has adopted two resolutions -- one in December 2006 and the other in March 2007 -- in attempts to force Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities and to give up its nuclear programs.

France, Britain and Germany formally introduced to the UN Security Council Thursday a draft resolution that calls for further sanctions against Iran over its refusal to suspend sensitive nuclear enrichment activities.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- and Germany will meet in Washington on Monday on Iran's nuclear issue, U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns said Friday.

Officials from the six countries will discuss a proposed third UN Security Council resolution on Iran to punish its defiance over its nuclear programs, Burns said.

The six countries have met for several times on the thorny issue but made no significant progress.

Iran has downplayed the effect of possible new sanctions, saying Tehran would show a "serious and logical reaction" if the UN Security Council issues a third resolution.

Source: Xinhua

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