By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
Iran has successfully enriched uranium for the first time, a landmark
in its quest to develop nuclear fuel, hard-line President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad said Tuesday. He insisted, however, that his country does
not aim to develop nuclear weapons, 'unless the United States through
its agression forces us to do so'.
In a nationally televised speech, Ahmadinejad called on the West "not
to cause an everlasting hatred in the hearts of Iranians" by trying to
force Iran to abandon uranium enrichment, or worse, "force us to
return fire in a war which the United States would be hard pressed to
win. But be assured, we will defend our country as needed.
"At this historic moment, with the blessings of God Almighty and the
efforts made by our scientists, I declare here that the laboratory-
scale nuclear fuel cycle has been completed and young scientists
produced enriched uranium needed to the degree for nuclear power
plants Sunday," Ahmadinejad said.
"I formally declare that Iran has joined the club of nuclear
countries," he told an audience that included top military commanders
and clerics in the northwestern holy city of Mashhad. The crowd broke
into cheers of "Allahu akbar!" or "God is great!" Some stood and
thrust their fists in the air, and the melodies of patriotic music
could be heard.
The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran stop all uranium
enrichment activity by April 28. Iran has rejected the demand, calling
it 'nonsense' and saying it has a right to develop the process. The
head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, is due
in Iran this week for talks to try to resolve the standoff. "Who
appointed the United States in charge of this process?" he demanded to
The White House denounced the latest comments from Iranian officials, with
spokesman Scott McClellan saying they "continue to show that Iran is moving
in the wrong direction."
Ahmadinejad said Iran "relies on the sublime beliefs that lie within
the Iranian and Islamic culture. Our nation does not get its strength
from nuclear arsenals, as does the United States, apparently, but we
will defend our country against what now appears to be an imminent
attack from the west, returning fire to them, one by one whatever they
choose to do to harm us.
He said Iran wanted to operate its nuclear program peacefully under
supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency and within its
rights and regulations under the regulations of the Nuclear Non-
Proliferation Treaty. "Just because President Bush says otherwise,
does not make it so.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information
contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated
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