Khatami: Iran Will Pursue Nuclear Program

AP: President Mohammad Khatami said Tuesday Iran will continue its nuclear program even if that means ending inspections by the U.N. nuclear monitoring agency.
"We've made our choice: yes to peaceful nuclear technology,
no to atomic weapons,'' Khatami told a military parade in Tehran. Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran - President Mohammad Khatami said Tuesday that Iran will continue its suspect nuclear program even if that means an end to U.N. oversight.

"We've made our choice: yes to peaceful nuclear technology, no to atomic weapons," Khatami told a military parade in Tehran.

"We will continue along our path even if it leads to an end to international supervision" of our nuclear activities, he said.

Iran's uranium enrichment program has been the focus of increased world concern because of suspicions Tehran may not be telling the truth when it says it is interested in the technology only to generate power.

Such suspicions are fed by 18 years of clandestine nuclear activities that were revealed only two years ago, including experiments with possible weapons applications; and some nuclear questions that remain unanswered.

A resolution passed unanimously Saturday by the governing board of the U.N. nuclear monitoring agency demanded for the first time that Iran freeze all work on uranium enrichment and answer all questions about its nuclear activities within two months.

Failure to do so could result in the agency referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions on the country. The United States has long pushed for such a referral.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani has said that if Iran is referred to the council, the country will halt unfettered inspections of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Khatami echoed that threat.

"They have to explicitly recognize our natural and legal right (to peaceful nuclear energy) to open the way for greater understanding and cooperation," Khatami said.

"We've made our choice. Now it is up to others to make their choice," he added.

Iran agreed to unhindered inspections last year, but its parliament has yet to ratify the additional protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that authorizes them.