Ahmadinejad hands 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on Friday reiterated his view that Tehran has the right to continue its nuclear program, state TV reported.
His comments were the first by an Iranian official since the lapse of the deadline imposed by a United Nations Security Council resolution.
"Exploitation of peaceful nuclear energy is our obvious right. We will never give up our legal right," TV quoted the Iranian president as saying in Maku, northwestern Iran.
Iran defied a UN deadline to stop enriching uranium, opening the door for sanctions, but US and other officials said no action would be sought before a key European diplomat meets with Tehran's atomic chief next week to seek a compromise.
Russia said it "regrets" Iran's decision not to halt uranium enrichment by the deadline, Russian news agencies reported. The response underscored Russia's growing impatience with Iran, which is building an atomic power plant with Moscow's help.
In Tehran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi shrugged off the possibility of sanctions, telling state-run television that Iran "will find a way to avoid pressure eventually."
Ahmadinejad denounced the United States, accusing it of trying to impose its will on Iran.
"They claim to be supporting freedom but they support the most tyrannical governments in the world to pursue their own interests," he told a crowd of thousands in the northwestern town of Orumiyeh.
"The Iranian nation will not succumb to bullying, invasion and the violation of its rights," Ahmadinejad said.
While stating "Iran has not suspended its enrichment activities," the restricted IAEA report, obtained by the AP, did not specifically say Iran was carrying out enrichment Thursday. It said only that Tehran started work on a new batch Aug. 24.
But a senior official close to the agency said Iran's pilot centrifuge plant was processing small quantities of uranium gas for enrichment as late as Tuesday, the last day IAEA inspectors reported back to headquarters on Tehran's nuclear program.