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Iran Threatens to Produce Own Nuclear Fuel

Edward Yeranian, VOA, Cairo

Iran's president says his country is resolved to produce its own highly enriched uranium if the West is unwilling to accept Iran's counter-proposal to a U.N. deal worked out last November.

Ahmadinejad delivers a speech on next year's budget bill at parliament, in Tehran, 24 Jan 2010

After presenting his his budget proposals to parliament, Iran President Mahmud Ahmadinejad spoke to journalists about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

The Fars News Agency reported President Ahmadinejad said he would have "good news", next month, about Iran's domestic production of 20-percent high-grade nuclear fuel, a long-standing bone of contention between Tehran and the West:

He says that on the anniversary of the Iranian revolution we will inform people of this scientific development in order to give pride to the Iranian nation as well as free people across the world.

Iran analyst Mehrdad Khonsari of the London-based Center for Arab and Iranian Studies thinks Mr. Ahmadinejad is trying to appeal to Iranian's sense of nationalism in portraying the alleged successes of Tehran's nuclear program and is trying to divert domestic attention away from Iran's economic and political woes:

"Ahmadinejad tries to put a spin that the Iranian people are unified in their support for the nuclear program, but I do not believe that is the case, because the Iranian people do not know what it entails," he said. "And now that domestic troubles have spread, the cost of the nuclear program and the potential imposition of more sanctions on an already desperate economic situation puts everything in a different light. Ahmadinejad's aim is diversion, but how successful that ploy is, is another matter," he added.

Control room at Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, just outside the southern port city of Bushehr (File)

The West offered Iran a draft nuclear deal under the International Atomic Energy Agency last November. It calls for Iran to trade about 80 percent of its domestically produced low-grade uranium for more highly enriched nuclear fuel from France and Russia.

Iran presented a counter-proposal late last year under which it would trade its low-grade uranium for the more highly enriched variety, but only on its soil, and not all at one time. Iran has given Western powers until the end of January to accept its counter-proposal.

Iranian officials have repeatedly insisted their nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes, but the West suspects Tehran is working to produce atomic weapons.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton recently warned Tehran the international community will "not back down" in the face of its defiant refusal to accept the IAEA draft nuclear deal. Western powers are discussing possible new economic sanctions on Tehran.

... Payvand News - 01/25/10 ... --

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