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Iranian cleric says atomic program will continue    



Reuters

By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN - Iran is determined to press ahead with its atomic programme even if its nuclear dossier is sent to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions, a leading cleric said on Friday.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran that possible U.N. sanctions on Iran would make the Islamic republic stronger than ever.

"Iran will never yield to international pressure to abandon its home-grown nuclear technology," said Jannati, who heads Iran's hardliner Guardian Council -- a powerful, unelected supervisory body.

"Americans should know that it is just impossible. You will take this wish to the grave," Jannati said.

The United states and some other countries accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear arms under cover of a civilian atomic program. Iran denies this, saying its ambitions are peaceful.

"We have no intention of pursuing nuclear weapons," he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has urged Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program and threatened to take Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible economic sanctions at its November meeting if Tehran continued to ignore the call.

Although Iran promised Britain, Germany and France last year it would freeze all enrichment-related activities, it has begun processing raw uranium to prepare it for enrichment, a process that can be used to make a nuclear bomb.

In a move diplomats said could lead to Russia backing the U.S. drive to send Iran to the U.N. Security Council, a source close to a deal to smooth the launch of the Russian-built $800 million Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran said Moscow may call off next month's planned signing of the accord.

The deal would pave the way for Russia and Iran to start up the plant after years of delays.

SANCTIONS

In a speech broadcast live on state radio, Jannati said Iran had no fear of sanctions since it was familiar with those imposed by the United States on the country.

"Americans should know that implementing sanctions by the security Council will make us stronger," Jannati told worshippers at Tehran University campus.

Washington slapped a trade and investment embargo on Iran in 1995, which among other things prevents U.S. companies from investing in OPEC's second-largest producer or trading in Iranian oil.

"Such sanctions enabled us to build our Shahab-3 missile," Jannati said, referring to Iran's medium-range ballistic missile which military experts say could strike Iran's arch-foe Israel or U.S. bases in the Gulf.

Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic relations since hardliner students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took hostage 52 Americans for 444 days after the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah.

Story taken from Iranfocus.com 

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