Iran warns West of "bloody nose" over nuclear issue

TEHRAN Wed Apr 9, 2008 12:41pm EDT

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, 350 km (217 miles) south of Tehran, April 8, 2008. REUTERS/Presidential official website/Handout

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, 350 km (217 miles) south of Tehran, April 8, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Presidential official website/Handout

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's president on Wednesday warned the West to expect a "bloody nose" over mounting pressure on Iran to halt its sensitive uranium enrichment activities, state television reported.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany will meet on April 16 in Shanghai to discuss whether to sweeten incentives they had offered Iran in 2006 to curb its nuclear program.

In a televised address from the northeastern city of Mashhad, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted Iran would never abandon its atomic work, which the West fears is a cover to build nuclear bombs. Iran says its work is to produce energy.

"The Iranian nation will bloody the enemy's (the West's) nose if they want to violate an iota of our rights (to nuclear technology)," he said without elaborating.

The Security Council has imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iran for refusing council's demand to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, which can be used to make fuel for power plants or atomic bombs, if refined much further.

Iran, which says it wants nuclear technology to generate electricity, has so far ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives, and says it will only negotiate with the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

"We are standing firm and the West's misbehavior towards Iran, will encourage the nation to capture higher summits," the president said to chants of "Death to America" by the crowd.

"The nation will slap you in the mouth."

Accelerating activity that could give Tehran the means to make atom bombs in the future if it wants to, Iran said on Tuesday it had begun installing 6,000 new centrifuges at its Natanz uranium enrichment plant and said it had tested a "new generation" of centrifuges.

Iran, the world's fourth largest oil exporter, launched 3,000 centrifuges, a basis for industrial scale enrichment, in Natanz. But they are a 1970s-vintage design, prone to breakdown.

"ERA OF OPPRESSION"

Washington said Tehran's move showed its intention to ignore Security Council demands to halt sensitive nuclear work and France suggested major powers may have to toughen sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said incentives offered to Iran in 2006 if it halted uranium enrichment, including civil nuclear cooperation, had been "very generous".

But Russia, which is building Iran's first nuclear power plant, said "new positive proposals" should be put to Iran.

The United States has not ruled out military action to stop Iran's nuclear activities and Israel has repeatedly urged the international community to stop Tehran's atomic work.

Ahmadinejad said imposing sanctions on Iran would have no results for the West.

"It will not weaken our nation's will ... the era of oppression is finished," Ahmadinejad said.

(Additional reporting by Hossein Jaseb, Writing by Parisa Hafezi)

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