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Thursday, December 6, 2007
Ahmadinejad: U.S. intelligence report a victory for Iran
TEHRAN (Agencies) -- A new U.S. intelligence review concluding Iran has no atomic weapons program is a ""declaration of victory"" for the Iranian nation, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday as carried by the Associated Press.
Russia's foreign minister, meanwhile, indicated that the U.S. report's findings undermined Washington's push for a new set of UN sanctions against Iran.
The U.S. intelligence report released Monday concluded that Iran had no nuclear weapons program, representing a sharp turnaround from a previous intelligence assessment in 2005.
""This is a declaration of victory for the Iranian nation against the world powers over the nuclear issue,"" Ahmadinejad told thousands of people during a visit to Ilam province in western Iran.
""This was a final shot to those who, in the past several years, spread a sense of threat and concern in the world through lies of nuclear weapons,"" Ahmadinejad said, drawing celebratory whistles from the crowd.
“Today is the day of victory for the Iranian nation and thank God all plots hatched by the enemies of Iran have failed,” IRNA quoted the president as saying.
The pride of the enemies will never let them confess to their mistakes, he said.
They should be well aware that the Iranian nation has chosen its path and will not back down one iota from its position and will proceed the path under the wise guidance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
In its nuclear standoff, the Iranian nation realized that any retreat would be the last one and if it gave up even one iota they would have continued their threats until depriving the nation of its legitimate rights, said the president.
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, called the report a ""sigh of relief"" because its conclusions also jibe with the agency's own findings.
""Iran obviously has been somewhat vindicated in saying they have not been working on a weapons program, at least for the last few years,"" ElBaradei told reporters in Brazil's capital, Brasilia.
The intelligence estimate was released Monday — two days after the world's major powers met in Paris and indicated that a compromise text on a third sanctions resolution could be circulated at the UN as early as Friday by the six countries — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany.
Russia, a veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, said Wednesday there was no proof that Iran has ever run a nuclear weapons program.
""We will assess the situation regarding a new UN Security Council resolution taking into account all these facts, including the U.S. confirmation that it has no information about the existence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran,"" Lavrov said.
Russia and China, another veto-wielding council member, have grudgingly approved two sets of limited UN sanctions against Iran over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. But the Kremlin has bristled at the U.S. push for tougher measures, saying they would only widen the rift.
China had said Tuesday the U.S. report raised second thoughts about new sanctions.
Iran has rejected the two UN Security Council resolutions demanding that it halt uranium enrichment.
Some analysts said it may be hard to maintain support for a swift new UN resolution that would further restrict trade with Iran.
""An enormous effort has been invested to date in trying to bring the Russians, Chinese, and Europeans on board with the current sanctions...and this report doesn't appear to have been widely anticipated among our allies,"" said Suzanne Maloney, a foreign policy senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said the new U.S. intelligence report meant that Washington's push to refer the case over Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council in 2006 was ""illegal"".
""One of the consequences of this report is that referring Iran's nuclear issue to the UN Security Council was illegal because, based on the report by U.S. intelligence agencies, Iran had no nuclear weapons program when the issue was referred to the UN Security Council in 2006,"" Hosseini said in a statement Tuesday.