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Ahmadinejad Claims Victory In Nuclear Dispute


By Sonja Pace
London

Iranian President Claims Victory in Nuclear Dispute

Iran's president declares victory over the United States and other world powers in the dispute about Tehran's nuclear ambitions. The Iranian leader says this week's U.S. intelligence report supports Iran's assertion that its nuclear program is for energy, not weapons.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wasted no time in declaring victory.

Speaking to crowds in western Iran, he vowed Iran would stand firm behind its right to obtain nuclear technology and would not retreat one iota.

Mr. Ahmadinejad also reiterated that Iran is a peaceful nuclear country.

Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only and not for developing weapons as the United States and other countries claim.

Washington has spearheaded the international campaign to curb Iran's nuclear program and has been pushing for a third round of U.N. sanctions to pressure Iran to stop its uranium enrichment.

Monday the U.S. intelligence community released a new assessment on Iran's nuclear capabilities and stated that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons development program four years ago.

The National Intelligence Estimate says international pressure and scrutiny likely caused Tehran to scrap its weapons program. But the assessment also says that Iran appears to be keeping its options open as it continues to produce enriched uranium.

U.S. President George Bush has said the report would not change Washington's position.

"Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous," he said. "And, Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."

Mr. Bush cautioned that the international community must remain vigilant.

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov said the U.S. report should be taken into account when discussing further sanctions at the United Nations. As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russian support for new sanctions against Iran is crucial and Russia as well as China have been reluctant to step up the pressure.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says the new U.S. assessment also validates the agency's findings that there is no indication Iran is conducting a secret nuclear-weapons program.

But the United States, Britain and France say they remain concerned about Iran's nuclear ambitions and say further sanctions against Tehran remain an option.

ENDS

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