By NASSER KARIMI
Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
said Monday that Tehran will continue to pursue nuclear technology,
despite a U.N. Security Council deadline to suspend uranium
enrichment by the end of the month or face the threat of economic
and diplomatic sanctions.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran has made its own decision and in
the nuclear case, God willing, with patience and power, will
continue its path," Khamenei was quoted as saying by state
In Austria, diplomats and U.N. officials said Iran has turned
away U.N. inspectors wanting to examine its underground nuclear
site in an apparent violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of
the confidentiality of the information, told The Associated Press
that Iran's unprecedented refusal to allow access to the facility
at Natanz could seriously hamper international efforts to ensure
that Tehran is not trying to make nuclear weapons.
Khamenei's declaration came on the eve of Iran's self-imposed
Aug. 22 deadline to respond to a Western incentives package for it
to roll back its nuclear program. The United Nations has given
Tehran until the end of August to suspend uranium enrichment.
He accused the United States of putting pressure on Iran despite
Tehran's assertions that its nuclear program was peaceful.
"Arrogant powers and the U.S. are putting their utmost pressure on
Iran while knowing Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons," he said.
Iran on Sunday said it will offer a "multifaceted response" to
the incentives proposal. It insisted that it won't suspend uranium
The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution last month
requiring the halt to enrichment under threat of economic and
Also on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed for a
"solid answer" from Iran on the package.
"I still hope that it will be positive, although some signals
have been very confused," said Merkel, whose country drew up the
package with the five permanent Security Council members.
The proposal includes promises that the United States and Europe
will provide civilian nuclear technology and that Washington will
join direct talks with Iran.
Tehran says uranium enrichment does not violate any of its
obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and that its
nuclear program aims to produce electricity.
Khamenei accused the West of wanting to obstruct scientific
progress in the Islamic world and called for Islamic countries to
stand together in the face of such pressure.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)