Ahmadinejad said that US and EU powers wanted to monopolise nuclear power in order to rule the world and impose their will on nations.

 

He said: "Initially, they were very angry. Today, they have finally agreed to live with a nuclear Iran, with an Iran possessing the [whole] nuclear fuel cycle."

 

Pressing ahead

 

The US and European allies are negotiating with Russia and China over a draft UN Security Council resolution that would penalise Iran for its refusal to cease enrichment. This process can also produce material for nuclear bombs.

 

"It will be the celebration of the stabilisation of the nuclear right of the Iranian nation"

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian president

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"I'm very hopeful that we will be able to hold the big celebration of Iran's full nuclearisation in the current year," said Ahmadinejad, referring to Iran's calendar year, which ends on March 20.

 

"It will be the celebration of the stabilisation of the nuclear right of the Iranian nation."

 

The president acknowledged that Iran still had a long way to go before it could produce amounts of enriched uranium sufficient to power the reactor it has built at Bushehr, in southern Iran, with Russian technical assistance.

 

"We need time to produce enough fuel for one complete nuclear power plant," he said.

 

Enrichment

 

Iran intends to move towards large-scale uranium enrichment involving 3,000 centrifuges by the end of 2006.

 

Iranian nuclear officials have proposed a target of 54,000 centrifuges in total. This will produce enough enriched uranium to fuel a 1,000-megawatt reactor, such as Bushehr.

 

Iran announced in February that it had, for the first time, enriched uranium with a series of 164 centrifuges.

 

For more than three years, when it was revealed that Iran kept certain aspects of its nuclear development hidden, there has been concern over the country's nuclear programme.

 

Nuclear weapons

 

The US accuses Iran of seeking to build nuclear bombs under the cover of a civilian programme. Iran denies this, insisting that its programme is for producing electricity.

 

The UN Security Council told Iran to impose a moratorium on enrichment by August 31, 2006. Iran ignored the deadline, saying that being a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty entitled it to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

 

The IAEA declined to comment on Ahmadinejad's remarks, but in its confidential report stated that the country is still failing to give the UN nuclear agency co-operation on resolving key questions.

 

From August 13 to November 2 the IAEA claims that Iran fed "a total of approximately 34kg" of feedstock uranium gas into centrifuges in Natanz, producing a small amount of uranium enriched to low levels.

 

The report said: "While the agency is able to verify the non-diversion [from peaceful purposes] of declared nuclear material in Iran, the agency will remian unable to make further progress in its efforts to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities ... unless Iran addresses the long outstanding verification issues."