Report: Ahmadinejad Says Iran Is Nuclear, Cannot Be Turned Back|
By Haaretz Service and News Agencies
Israel Radio reported Saturday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has released a statement saying Iran has become a nuclear nation and no one can cause the country to backtrack.
"Our enemies cannot harm us, not because they don't wish to, but because they cannot do so due to their difficult situation," Israel Radio quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
Ahmadinejad and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday defended a controversial fuel rationing plan in Iran, state-television IRIB reported.
According to Isral Radio, Ahmadinejad said the rationing of fuel has made Iran better able to withstand pressure from the international community. He was referring to sanctions placed on the country following its refusal to halt uranium enrichment as part of its nuclear program.
He said the enemies of Iran have acknowledged the fact that the rationing of fuel has made his country "undefeatable," the radio reported.
Khamenei said in a meeting with government officials that the surplus from the rationing plan and non-import of oil could be used for other development plans in the country.
Although Iran is a leading OPEC member and the world's fourth biggest oil producer with a daily oil production of 4.2 million barrels, the Islamic state must import more than 40 per cent of the country's oil needs and spend 5 - 8 billion dollars annually on imports due to a lack of refineries and a preference for oil exports.
Riots broke out in protest against the decision, and several gas stations were set on fire.
Ahmadinejad defended the plan as a complex decision that required national will to help the country gain invulnerability to international threats.
Iranian officials had earlier said the plan should also be regarded as a precautionary move in case of United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear projects.
Ahmadinejad further called for a switch from oil to natural gas in order to further decrease the necessity of oil imports.
The harsh protests confirmed the government's fears that the move would dent Ahmadinejad's popularity before parliamentary elections in March next year and even negatively affect his chances for re-election in 2009.
Report: IAEA team to visit Iran
A team from the UN nuclear watchdog will visit Iran on July 11-13 to discuss how to resolve questions about Tehran's disputed nuclear program, the ISNA news agency quoted an Iranian official as saying on Saturday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency last week said Iran had invited it to send a team after Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, agreed a "plan of action" for clearing up issues with IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei.
"A team consisting of the agency's deputy and some officials? will come to Tehran to study a working plan that will answer all the remaining issues in regard to Iran's nuclear program," Iran's IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told ISNA.