Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that Iran will “not back down an inch” over its nuclear program, which Tehran kept hidden for twenty years. The United States and other nations publicly acknowledge Iran’s right to develop a civilian nuclear energy program, but remain deeply concerned that Tehran’s ultimate goal is to develop a nuclear weapons capability.
Mr. Ahmadinejad also said that Iran intends to launch more rockets into space in the next few months. The launching of a rocket earlier this month by Iran caused international concern because the technology used is the same as that used to launch long-range ballistic missiles. Such missiles could be used to launch a nuclear strike.
In an interview on Fox News, President George W. Bush said that during discussions with foreign leaders, he has made it “abundantly clear to nervous nations that Iran is a threat.”
The Iranian nuclear issue is now once again at the forefront of deliberations of the United Nations Security Council. Tehran has not complied with demands that it suspend its uranium enrichment and other proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities. Enriched uranium can be used to produce the fissile material for nuclear weapons. The Security Council has passed two resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran for refusing to abide by its international nuclear obligations and is considering a third.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice highlighted the fact that the call for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities “is an international demand, not an American one.” She said that if Tehran takes that step, “we could begin negotiations, and we could work over time to build a new, more normal relationship, one defined not by fear and mistrust, but growing cooperation, expanding trade and exchange, and the peaceful management of our differences.”