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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran has right to possess nuclear power - president

RIA Novosti

16/04/2007 13:35 TEHRAN, April 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Iranian president reiterated Monday that his country will never give up its legitimate right to develop nuclear technologies.

Tensions continue to grow over the Iranian nuclear program as some Western countries, particularly the U.S., suspect Tehran is pursuing a covert weapons program since it resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006.

But Tehran has consistently claimed it needs nuclear power for civilian power generation and is fully entitled to its own nuclear program.

"The Iranian people will continue to defend its legitimate demands and rights [in the nuclear sphere], and will not yield an inch," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech during a trip to southern Iran, which was aired on national television.

He called on global powers to stop pressuring and threatening the Islamic Republic, and said "these policies will not only fail to bring positive results, but will harm those who conduct them instead."

Ahmadinejad said Iran will continue work on its civilian nuclear program to "realize its undeniable right" to develop its nuclear power industry.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously March 24 to impose new sanctions against the Islamic Republic for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

The new UN Security Council resolution was passed following Tehran's refusal to comply with the previous resolution adopted December 23, 2006.

The new resolution freezes the foreign accounts of 13 companies and 15 individuals involved in uranium enrichment and missile development projects, imposes visa restrictions and bans arms exports from Iran.

It also threatens additional sanctions if Iran does not comply with the resolution within 60 days, and urges the Islamic Republic to return to negotiations.

But in defiance of the demands put forward by international community, the Iranian president said April 9 that his country had attained an industrial level of nuclear fuel production.

Following his statement, the Iranian information agency IRNA quoted Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh as saying that the Islamic Republic would increase the number of centrifuges at a nuclear center in central Iran to 50,000.

On Sunday, an Iranian nuclear official said Iran will soon announce a tender for the construction of two more nuclear power plants in the south of the country.

Ahmad Fayazbakhsh, the deputy head in charge of power plants at Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said the power plants will each have a capacity of 1,000 to 1,600 megawatts and will be built at Bushehr where Russia is completing the construction of Iran's first nuclear power plant.

The $1 billion project being built under a 1995 contract was put in jeopardy after Atomstroyexport, the project's main contractor, said that Tehran had not made any payments for the NPP's construction since mid-January, and that by the fourth quarter of 2006 the project had only received 60% of the required funding.

Iran said in April that only 8% of the work remains to be done on the Bushehr NPP, and that "this year its construction will be completed."

Meanwhile, Fayazbakhsh said some major European and Asian contractors have already displayed interest in the construction of new NPPs.

He also said the two nuclear power plants will cost about $1.4-1.8 billion and their construction will take about 9-11 years.

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