ahmadinejad fingers up.
(photo credit: AP [file])
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday warned Europe against backing proposed UN measures against its nuclear program, saying Iran would respond by downgrading relations with the EU.
Iran is concerned about moves at the UN Security Council to penalize it for refusing to cease uranium enrichment, a process that produces the material for nuclear reactors or bombs. The Europe Union has been supporting the United States in pushing for tougher UN penalties than Russia and China would like to see.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Monday that the leading powers at the UN were nearing an agreement on a Security Council resolution. The council's Big Five plus Germany are expected to meet in Paris later Tuesday to discuss a draft resolution.
Speaking to a crowd in this northern provincial capital, the president addressed the member states of the European Union, saying: "I'm telling you in plain language that as of now, if you try, whether through propaganda or international organizations, to take steps against the rights of the Iranian nation, the Iranian nation will consider it an act of hostility.
"And if you insist on pursuing this path, it (Iran) will reconsider its relations with you," he said.
Iran says it is entitled as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. But the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has criticized Iran for concealing significant aspects of its nuclear work and says it has failed to answer all questions about its program.
Ahmadinejad, who was visiting Mazandaran province on the Caspian Sea, reiterated there would be no slowing down of Iran's nuclear program despite international opposition.
"Thanks to the grace of God and (the Iranian people's) resistance, we are on the final stage of the path to the nuclear peak. Not more than one step is left to be taken. By the end of the year, we will organize a celebration across the country to mark the stabilization of our nuclear rights," he said, referring to the Iranian calendar year that ends March 20.
By "stabilization," Ahmadinejad appeared to mean that Iran has managed to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, a requirement for making sufficient fuel to power Iran's Russian-built reactor at Bushehr, which is due to go on stream next year.
Iranian officials have said several times, and have told the IAEA, that they plan to be using 3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium by the end of 2006.