ARDABIL, Iran – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Wednesday that Iran would not give any concessions to the West over it nuclear program, only days after a U.N. report said Tehran had been generally truthful about key aspects of its nuclear history.
Ahmadinejad said concessions to the United States and its allies would only result in more concessions further down the road over its controversial nuclear program that the West says is aimed at creating weapons — a charge Iran denies.
"They want get a small concession from us, for instance, that we won't go beyond a certain point within the next four years or we annually make just a certain amount of progress," Ahmadinejad told thousands of people in the northwestern Iranian city of Ardabil.
"This will become a legal precedent. Then, they will come and threaten us to obtain another concession," he added.
Ahmadinejad said no concessions beyond Iran's transparent cooperation with the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency should be expected.
"The Iranian nation has until today resisted and will continue to resist ... and won't give the smallest concession against legal rules to any power at all," Ahmadinejad said drawing shouts of "nuclear energy is our right" from the crowd.
Earlier this month, Iran said it has reached a milestone in its nuclear program, saying the country now has 3,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges fully operating at its uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in central Iran.
The number 3,000 is the commonly accepted figure for a nuclear enrichment program that is past the experimental stage and can be used as a platform for a full industrial-scale program that, according to IAEA officials, could churn out enough enriched material for a nuclear weapon in a year and a half, should Iran chose to go the route.
Iran says it plans to expand its enrichment program to up to 54,000 centrifuges at Natanz and is fully within its rights to pursue the enrichment to produce fuel under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The IAEA report last week confirmed that Iran has installed and fed uranium gas into nearly 3,000 centrifuges, saying the agency verified that Iran had finished installing eighteen 164-machine cascades at Natanz and that UF-6, or uranium gas, had been fed into all 18 cascades.
The United States says it will continue with its allies to press for new U.N. Security Council sanctions unless Iran halts uranium enrichment.
While the IAEA said Iran has not halted uranium enrichment, much of its 10-page report focused on the history of Iran's black-market procurements and past development of its enrichment technology — and the agency appeared to be giving Tehran a pass on that issue, repeatedly saying it concludes that "Iran's statements are consistent with ... information available to the agency."