(photo credit: Associated Press [file])
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday challenged the authority of the UN Security Council, two days before its deadline demanding Teheran stop uranium enrichment, and declaring that no one could prevent Iran from pursuing a peaceful nuclear program.
"The US and Britain are the source of many tensions. At the Security Council, where they have to protect security, they enjoy the veto right. If anybody confronts them, there is no place to take complaints to," Ahmadinejad said at a press conference. "This [veto right] is the source of problems of the world... It is an insult to the dignity, independence, freedom and sovereignty of nations."
He said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is expected in Iran on Saturday, also had to "move within the framework of international regulations... No one has a special right or advantage."
In Jerusalem, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, a former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head, warned that Iran's nuclear capability constituted the only real threat to Israel's existence ever presented by a Moslem country.
"All of the other threats have been strategic threats, but nuclear weapons in Iran threaten Israel's very existence," he said, adding that "Iran is - rightly - viewed as a country without limits."
Dichter said Iran armed Hizbullah to ensure a second-strike capability should Western powers attack its nuclear facilities. "Hizbullah is a division of the Iranian army," he said, "the first division that Iran founded together outside its borders."
He also told reporters that it would be much easier to launch an attack against Iranian nuclear capability rather than to attempt to bring about regime change.
Ahmadinejad also spared no words in his analysis of Israel's role in the region, saying that Israel's creation is a "tale" and calling the Jewish state a threat to peace and stability in the Middle East.
"The Zionist regime has deprived the Palestinian nation and other nations of the region of a single day of peace. In the past 60 years, it has imposed dozens of wars on the Palestinian nation and others," he said.
He also proposed having a televised debate with US President George W. Bush on world issues.
"When we want to talk with a friendly country, we speak under clear circumstances. And talks with those who every day show an angry face to our nation requires other conditions. If conditions are met, yes," he said. He did not specify what conditions would be needed to hold talks.
Earlier on Tuesday, an Iranian senior official said Teheran would pursue nuclear activities, despite international pressure and invited Western companies to bid for tenders to build nuclear plants, a news agency reported.
"We have had... another 21 thousand megawatts of nuclear power plants approved by the parliament that will be built in the next 20 years," Seyed Ala'addin Barojerdi, chairman of parliament's National Security and Foreign Affairs Commission, was quoted as saying by national news agency Bernama. "International tenders for building of two of these nuclear power plants have been so far presented and we would be willing to see the Western companies participate in these projects."
If there are no takers, he said the Iranian government would undertake the projects on its own.
"This is not a trend that could be stopped and we shall definitely [be] involved in the construction of what we do need for ourselves" in the future, he said after meeting Malaysian parliament officials.