TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran needs the ability to produce nuclear fuel because it cannot rely on other nations to supply enriched uranium to the Islamic Republic’s planned reactors, the Iranian president said Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also contended that Washington does not have the will to launch a military strike on Iran over its nuclear ambitions.
The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.
“We’re not concerned at all that a confrontation will occur,” said Ahmadinejad, who is in New York for the UN General Assembly. “What (factors) demand a war?”
Ahmadinejad said Iran must develop its own centrifuge system to enrich uranium or risk being held hostage to international supplies that could be halted.
Western powers have offered Iran economic incentives to abandon its enrichment program and take outside supplies of fuel.
Ahmadinejad, however, said Iran would not step back from its own enrichment projects.
“What guarantee do we have that they would give (the nuclear fuel) to us?” he told the media gathering, which included The Associated Press.
He cited past contracts with US and European companies for power plants and other projects that were canceled after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“Iran paid billions (and) Western countries pulled out … Who do we take our complaints to?” he said.
Iran has turned to Russia to build its first nuclear plant at Bushehr near Iran’s Persian Gulf coast, and the reactor is scheduled to go online in early 2009.
Meantime, Ahmadinejad reiterated that nuclear weapons are no long a factor in the global balance of power following the end of the Cold War.
“The time for the atomic bomb has come to an end. If the atomic bomb could do any good, it would have kept the Soviet Union from collapsing,” he said. “Those who stockpile or build the atomic bomb are backward thinking.”
Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.
Tehran has dismissed West’s demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians’ national resolve to continue the path.
Iran insists that it should continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.
Iran currently suffers from an electricity shortage that has forced the country into adopting a rationing program by scheduling power outages – of up to two hours a day – across both urban and rural areas.
Iran plans to construct additional nuclear power plants to provide for the electricity needs of its growing population.
The Islamic Republic says that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean of IAEA’s questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.
Observers believe that the US is at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. 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.
The US attempt to push for stronger Security Council sanctions was further undermined by the country’s own national intelligence estimate, published in late 2007, which said Iran is not pursuing a weapons program.
Washington’s push for additional UN penalties also contradicts reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohammed ElBaradei – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran.
The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.
Also in his latest report to the IAEA’s 35-member Board of Governors, ElBaradei once again verified Iran’s non-diversion of declared nuclear material, adding that the UN agency has failed to discover any “components of a nuclear weapon” or “related nuclear physics studies” in Iran.
The UN nuclear watchdog has carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites so far, but found nothing to support West’s allegations.
The Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog continues snap inspections of Iranian nuclear sites and has reported that all “declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”
The aforementioned reports have made any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran completely irrational.
Observers believe that Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran lost steam due to the growing international vigilance following the said reports.
Many world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure against Iran unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports, stressing that Tehran’s case should be normalized and returned to the UN nuclear watchdog due to the Islamic Republic’s increased cooperation with the agency.
US President George W. Bush finished a tour of the Middle East in winter to gain the consensus of 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.