Ahmadinejad Says Iran to Resist Atomic Work Pressure


By Ladane Nasseri

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Persian Gulf country will resist pressure from world powers to halt its nuclear program.

"They said Iran has surrendered. They are mistaken," Ahmadinejad said today, referring to the international dispute over Iran's atomic work, in a speech broadcast live on state television from the western town of Yasouj. "If the great powers think they can sit down and discuss Iran's rights and pressurize Iranians, such a thing won't happen in 100 years."

European Union foreign ministers vowed yesterday to maintain pressure on Iran to halt its uranium enrichment project, after weekend talks in Geneva failed to produce a breakthrough.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns and other diplomats met with Iranian officials in Geneva July 19, offering Iran economic and diplomatic incentives to halt its nuclear work. Solana gave Iran two weeks to respond to the talks.

The "Iranian people consider nuclear energy as their undeniable right," Ahmadinejad said today. "They will stand until the end."

The incentives package offered in Geneva was the latest held out to the country in three years of nuclear negotiations, which have also seen the United Nations impose three sets of sanctions on the nation for refusing to stop its atomic work. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week called on Iran to stop "stalling," promising more UN penalties if it doesn't respond to the package.

'Step Forward'
The Iranian president welcomed the U.S. presence at the Geneva talks, though he cautioned the Bush administration against trying to pressure Iran over its nuclear developments.

"You took a step forward toward acknowledging the Iranian people's rights and toward justice," Ahmadinejad said in his speech. "Don't spoil this positive step by using oppressors' rhetoric and bullying."

Iran says it is trying to enrich uranium to produce fuel for power stations instead of building the weapons that the U.S. and some European countries allege it wants. The talks with Iran have been led by the EU with U.S. backing, and involved all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.