Ahmadinejad heralds new nuke achievements
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivers his speech during the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Azadi (Freedom) Square in Tehran. AFP photoIran will soon unveil “big new” nuclear achievements, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Feb. 11 while reiterating Tehran’s readiness to revive talks with the West over the country’s controversial nuclear program.
Ahmadinejad spoke at a rally in Tehran as tens of thousands of Iranians marked the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution that toppled the pro-Western monarchy and brought Islamic clerics to power.
Ahmadinejad did not elaborate on the upcoming announcement but insisted Iran would never give up its uranium enrichment, a process that makes material for reactors as well as weapons. “Within the next few days the world will witness the inauguration of several big new achievements in the nuclear field,” Ahmadinejad told the crowd in Tehran’s famous Azadi, or Freedom, square.
Iran has said it is forced to manufacture nuclear fuel rods, which provide fuel for reactors, on its own since international sanctions ban it from buying them on foreign markets. In January, Iran said it had produced its first such fuel rod.
Iran’s pursuit of the nuclear program scuttled negotiations a year ago but Iranian officials last month proposed a return to the talks with the P5+1 group, comprising the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain. “Iran is ready for talks within the framework of equality and justice,” Ahmadinejad repeated on said Saturday but warned that Tehran “will never enter talks if enemies behave arrogantly.” In the past, Iran has angered Western officials by appearing to buy time through opening talks and weighing proposals even while pressing ahead with the nuclear program.
Chinese diplomat arrives in Tehran
Meanwhile, a senior Chinese diplomat arrived in Tehran yesterday to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, amid differences between China and the West over how to resolve the dispute it has caused.
The semi-official ISNA news agency said China’s assistant foreign minister, Ma Zhaoxu, met a member of the Supreme Council of National security, Ali Baqeri, for talks on Iran’s stalled nuclear talks with six world powers, as well as bilateral ties.
The agency quoted Ma as saying China was interested in accelerating talks between Iran and the P5+1 group. China has repeatedly said that the only way to resolve the issue is through dialogue and cooperation.
Tensions rose last month when EU leaders agreed to embargo Iranian oil and put in place further measures against Iran’s central bank. China is one of the largest users of Iranian oil, buying around one fifth of total exports. The EU is also a major consumer and member states have until July to find alternative sources.
ISNA earlier quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would soon visit China.