Iran to Press Ahead on Nuclear Technology

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures at a news conference. i i

hide captionAt a news conference Saturday in Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed his country would not back down.

Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures at a news conference.

At a news conference Saturday in Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed his country would not back down.

Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed that his country would continue to develop nuclear technology. From Tehran, reporter Roxanna Saberi discusses the day's developments with Jacki Lyden.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Jacki Lyden. Debbie Elliott is away.

Iran will continue its drive to develop nuclear technology. Speaking today in Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated that Western nations have no legal right to restrict his country's nuclear research. Earlier this week, Iran removed the UN seals on its uranium processing equipment in defiance of international agreements. Roxanna Saberi is a reporter based in Tehran and she joins us on the line.

Welcome, Roxanna.

Ms. ROXANNA SABERI (Reporter): Thanks for having me, Jacki.

LYDEN: We know now that this dance has been going on for a while between the West and Iran over its nuclear capability. Do you think that President Ahmadinejad's remarks have indeed indicated a new readiness to abandon negotiations altogether?

Ms. SABERI: Well, I don't think it has reached that point yet, but at the same time, it's true Ahmadinejad did use strong language and it is in keeping with hard-line stance that he has held on the nuclear issue. Iran has basically argued that from a legalistic approach that Iran has the right to have the full nuclear fuel cycle as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but Ahmadinejad simply--I think his main message today was that his country will not be intimidated and the nation is unified even if the case goes to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

LYDEN: There are fears that Iran, which is the second-largest oil-producing country in the world, will respond to this international pressure by holding back some of its oil which is called playing the oil card. Was there any hint or mention of that in the news conference?

Ms. SABERI: Ahmadinejad did say that foreign countries need Iran 10 times more than Iran needs them. And indeed Iran does have 10 percent of the world's known oil reserves and more gas than any other country, but Russia--it exports about 2.5 million barrels of oil a day. So Iranian leaders believe that if the country were sanctioned, the rest of the world would suffer because it would experience a decrease in the supply of oil and an increase to fight.

LYDEN: This trauma as we mention has really been growing. I'm wondering how ordinary Iranians are feeling about what's going on. The economy is quite dependent on Europe. There's been talk of possible sanctions. Are people supporting the president's defiance or feeling that he's taking them into unnecessarily dangerous waters?

Ms. SABERI: Most Iranians will say their country has the right to nuclear energy, but if you ask them at what cost, their answers will differ. Some Iranians say that they should not have to risk being internationally isolated, sanctioned or even a possible military attack. Other Iranians say that Iran should risk these things if it means that Iran can have nuclear energy. And some other Iranians even believe that Iran should have the right to nuclear weapons because they say Israel has nuclear weapons and this would bring some stability to the region instead of instability.

LYDEN: Roxanna Saberi is a reporter for Feature Story News in Tehran.

Roxanna, thanks very much.

Ms. SABERI: Thanks for having me.

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