AFP: A top Iranian conservative cleric warned the United States
on Friday against working to thwart Tehran's efforts to acquire
nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
"If you want to do something that would deprive the Iranian nation ..., thus hurting the nation, you would be faced with the Iranian nation's fists," Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani
said, addressing US President George W. Bush. AFP

TEHRAN - A top Iranian conservative cleric warned the United States on Friday against working to thwart Tehran's efforts to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

"If you want to do something that would deprive the Iranian nation ..., thus hurting the nation, you would be faced with the Iranian nation's fists," Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani said, addressing US President George W. Bush.

In an address at the weekly Friday prayers, broadcast live on state radio, he added: "I ask Iranian officials to unite in their words, based on the supreme leader's (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) commands, since it would a victory for us."

The Islamic republic signed up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) because it wanted to "use nuclear technology and fuel cycle for peaceful purposes and not to be deprived of its right", said Kashani.

Tehran's clerical regime insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, and that it does not seek to develop nuclear weapons as charged by Washington.

In a September 18 resolution, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Iran to halt its controversial uranium enrichment-related activities, a part of the nuclear fuel cycle that can be used for both energy and weapons purposes.

Fuel cycle work, including enrichment, is permitted under the NPT if it is for peaceful purposes, but the IAEA wants such activities in Iran stopped pending the completion of its more than 18-month-old investigation.

Iran suspended enrichment itself last year, but has continued to advance on other parts of the fuel cycle.

The resolution from the board of the UN nuclear watchdog also gives Iran until November 25 to clear up suspicions over its activities.

Failure to do so could see the country referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions -- something the United States has been pushing for.

Defying UN pressure, President Mohammad Khatami has reiterated Iran would not give up uranium enrichment efforts.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States had no plans for military action against Iran to thwart its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons, but Washington had not formally ruled out any option.

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