Iran Preparing for N. Energy Production

A031685410.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Tehran is close to its target of producing nuclear energy.

“The nuclear issue was the most important challenge since the (1979 Islamic) revolution but with the help of God and your resistance, it is ending in favor of the Iranian nation,” Ahmadinejad told a public congregation in the southern province of Bushehr on Wednesday.

“We are moving towards the summit on the nuclear path,” he said.

“Iranians… will not back down one iota in defense of their rights,” he said.

US is at loggerheads with Iran over Tehran’s independent and home-grown nuclear technology. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicted a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and a similar report by the IAEA head in November which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities, Russia and China increased resistance to any further punitive measures by the Security Council.

Tehran says it never worked on atomic weapons and wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.

Iran has insisted it would continue enriching uranium because it needed to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it was building in the southwestern town of Darkhovin.

Iran has also pledged to clear up all remaining questions over the program by late February.

Not only many Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also many other world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.

US President George W. Bush, who finished a tour of the Middle East earlier this month has called on his Arab allies to unite against Iran.

But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.

Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran has lost steam due to the IAEA and US intelligence reports.
Ahmadinejad made his remarks in Bushehr, the site of Iran’s first nuclear power plant.

An Iranian official told reporters on Wednesday that the Bushehr plant would be commissioned in October 2008.

Ahmad Fayazbakhsh, managing director of Iran’s Production and Development of Nuclear Energy Company, said the date for the plant’s electricity to join the national power grid would be announced after the commissioning.

Russia completed fuel deliveries for the plant on Monday and said it would “ideally” go online this year.

Fayazbakhsh said that Russia still had to send about 1,900 tons of equipment including precision instruments and ventilation systems for the plant.

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