A nuclear power plant (illustrative)..
(photo credit: AP)
An announcement by Iran’s nuclear chief of plans to build new atomic facilities in the country, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s newest warning regarding Israel’s demise, underline the need for “determined and effective international action,” a senior government official said on Saturday night.
“Ahmadinejad’s continuous outbursts of extremist rhetoric only prove to the entire international community the seriousness of the threat posed by the Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and heightens the need for determined and effective international action,” the official said.
Ahmadinejad, referring on Saturday to escalating tensions in the Gaza Strip, said IDF action would “cost” Israel “too much.”
“I say to the Zionists and their supporters that they have already committed enough crimes,” he told an Iranian crowd. “A new adventure in Gaza will not save you, but hasten your demise.”
Faced with the prospect of new sanctions because
of Iran’s nuclear defiance, Ahmadinejad said that such penalties would only strengthen his country’s technological advancement and help it to become more self-sufficient.
“Don’t imagine that you can stop Iran’s progress,” Ahmadinejad said in remarks broadcast live on state television. “The more you reveal your animosity, the more it will increase our people’s motivation to double efforts for construction and progress of Iran.”
The Iranian president claimed US pressure on Iran had backfired and made Washington more isolated in the eyes of the world.
US President Barack Obama said on Thursday that in the coming weeks the six world powers dealing with Iran’s nuclear program would develop a package of serious new punitive measures over Teheran’s refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
China, which has veto power in the UN Security Council and whose support would be key, has not confirmed US reports that it has dropped its opposition to new sanctions. Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, is in China in the hopes of winning assurances from Beijing that it will oppose such measures.
Iran’s economy has suffered over the past year, and parliament approved a cut in subsidies that keep fuel prices low, a further blow to Iranians already experiencing high unemployment and inflation.
The UN Security Council could consider new punishments on Iran, including increasing financial squeezes on the extensive holdings of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The US has also said it could seek to penalize companies that sell fuel to the oil-rich Islamic Republic, which imports about 40 percent of the fuel it needs because its refineries cannot keep pace.
Iran has periodically boasted of what it says is growing self-sufficiency in technological sectors like its satellite program and other scientific work.
Ahmadinejad sought to demonstrate that point in Saturday’s speech, which was addressed to workers at the inauguration of an industrial project in southern Iran.
“They [Americans] said they want to impose fuel sanctions... They don’t understand that they work in our favor. They imagine we will get upset should they refuse to sell gasoline to us... No, we immediately tell experts to produce it,” he said.
Ahmadinejad added that the US has failed to isolate Iran. He said the fact that Obama’s recent visit to Afghanistan was not announced beforehand for security reasons was evidence of America’s own isolation.
“First, let’s see who is isolated. We think those who can’t show up
publicly among the people and directly address them are isolated –
those who fear nations. Gentlemen go to a country where they have
60,000 troops without any prior announcement. Who is isolated?”
The Iranian president noted that his own recent trip to Afghanistan was announced in advance and said he was warmly received.
“You are isolated yourself, but you are a hotheaded and don’t understand it,” he said.
Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi told the Iranian Labor News
Agency on Saturday that new nuclear facilities would be inaugurated in
the first part of the Iranian New Year, which began last week.
Salehi said his organization was working to finalize plans for “one or
two nuclear facilities... in different parts of the country,” and that
this was contingent on Ahmadinejad’s approval.
“Planning for nuclear facility construction is among the policies of
the government to promote nuclear science in the country,” he was
quoted as saying.