REPORTING FROM TEHRAN AND BEIRUT -- A defiant Iran declared Wednesday that it would not suspend or alter its nuclear energy program, a day after a United Nations watchdog said it found evidence that the nation was pursuing development of an atomic weapon.
“We will not budge an iota from the path we are committed to,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in comments broadcast on state television, Agence France-Presse reported.
The International Atomic Energy Agency's report concluded that there was credible evidence the Islamic Republic may be conducting weapons research, citing "serious concerns" about "possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program."
Iran insists its nuclear efforts are for peaceful purposes such as generating electrical energy.
“Some bullying powers are armed with atomic bombs and they make [a] claim Iran is seeking such bombs,” Ahmadinejad told a crowd in western Iran, reported the semiofficial Iranian Students' News Agency. But, he added, Iran “does not need [a] bomb.”
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s representative to the IAEA, labelled the report "repetitious and politically minded," and said it endangers the "constructive climate" between the agency and Iran. He accused the U.N. agency of making “unfounded claims” under pressure from Western countries.
-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Patrick J. McDonnell in Beirut
Photo: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, shakes hands with an unidentified army colonel during his provincial tour Wednesday in central Iran. Credit: Ebrahim Seyyedi / presidency office