Iran Determined to Continue Nuclear Path Despite West’s Opposition

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed that nothing would stop Iran pushing ahead with its nuclear program, as world powers prepared to vote Friday on sanctions against Tehran.

“The United States and Europeans know well that they cannot do anything against Iran and their pressure will not hold back Iran’s desire to fully obtain peaceful nuclear technology,” Ahmadinejad said.

“The bullying powers today, in confronting Iran’s peaceful nuclear technology, are faced with a sea of courageous people,” he added in a speech in Gilan-e Gharb town, in Iran’s western Kermanshah province.

“If they think that nuclear energy only belongs to one group of the Iranian people they are mistaken.”

In Washington, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said her government was seeking last-minute changes to the draft UN resolution ahead of the vote.

The draft calls for a ban on trade with Iran in goods related to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

It also waters down a contentious proposal for a travel ban on Iranian officials, in a bid to win Russia’s support for the resolution that has been held up for weeks by wrangling amongst the Security Council powers.

Western countries want to impose sanctions on Iran over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, for fear that it would lead to Tehran having nuclear weapons that would radically shift the balance of power in the region to the detriment of Israel.

Iran counters that its nuclear program is only aimed at providing energy for a growing population.

Qatar’s UN ambassador Nasser Abdelaziz al-Nasser expressed misgivings about sanctions, saying Thursday, “We don’t know how the Iranians are going to react.”

“The Middle East is going through difficult times,” he told reporters at UN headquarters in New York. “We are worried about this matter. We live there.”

Without elaborating, Rice said Thursday that “there are some changes that are still to be made” to the draft resolution.

But she added Washington was “very supportive” of the overall draft — drawn up by Britain, France and Germany — and she expressed confidence it would be adopted.

“I am quite satisfied and quite certain that the resolution that will be adopted,” she said.

In his address Thursday, Ahmadinejad reaffirmed his prediction that Iran would be able to hold a “nuclear celebration” at the same time as it marks the 28th anniversary of the Islamic revolution on February 11.

Iran has not specified exactly what landmark will be feted on that day, but Ahmadinejad added, “Iran is only one step before we reach the zenith and we will take that step with pride.”

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