TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday Tehran would never yield to international pressure to suspend its nuclear program.
“Iran will never abandon its peaceful (nuclear) work. Our nuclear work is legal and why should we stop it?” Ahmadinejad told state television.
The United States and other Western powers suspect Iran has a secret program to build nuclear weapons. The oil-producing Islamic Republic says its nuclear program is only for generation of electricity for the benefit of its economy.
Two sets of U.N. sanctions have been imposed on Iran for defying Security Council resolutions demanding it suspend all nuclear fuel activity.
Ahmadinejad said any further U.N. resolutions would not prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear technology.
“Let’s say they issue resolution number 300 ... what will happen? It should be remembered that Iran is obtaining nuclear technology. They have to eventually accept that,” he said.
In an attempt to avert tougher sanctions, Tehran has agreed to increase cooperation with the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to clarify the scope of its atomic work.
Iran agreed during negotiations with the IAEA on Tuesday to let U.N. inspectors revisit its Arak nuclear reactor site early next week.
Tehran has warned Washington, which has led efforts to isolate Iran over its nuclear program, to back off from broader sanctions, saying such measures would harm new diplomatic opportunities.
The United States and Iran agreed at a rare meeting on Tuesday to form a panel to examine ways to reduce violence in Iraq. The two countries have not had diplomatic ties since shortly after Tehran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
European diplomats said last week Western powers had quietly shelved steps to toughen penalties against Iran until September so they could see the outcome of negotiations.
The IAEA inspectors would arrive in Tehran on Thursday, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported on Wednesday.
“They will visit Iran’s Isfahan Uranium Conversion facility (UCF). It is a routine visit,” Fars said.
Ahmadinejad said Iran had “some thousand centrifuges which are spinning every day”.
Centrifuges are used to make fuel for power plants but can also be employed to enrich uranium to a higher level to make bomb material.
“(The West) want us to stop right here ... If we were to abide by their demands, we had to negotiate for 10 years to obtain only 20 centrifuges ... but look what we have now,” said Ahmadinejad.
Diplomats have said Iran had installed about 2,000 centrifuges by early in June, most enriching uranium and others undergoing test “dry runs” without uranium in them. The 3,000 mark was likely to be reached by the end of July, they said.
Three thousand could produce material for one bomb within a year if run non-stop at supersonic speed.
But analysts say Iran has yet to demonstrate such capability and probably remains a few years away from being able to build a bomb if it wants one.