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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 March 2007, 21:34 GMT
Iran president seeks UN audience
Arak heavy water production facility
Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to address the UN Security Council to defend his country's controversial nuclear programme.

Iran has defied UN demands to halt uranium enrichment, which Western nations say is part of a programme to develop a nuclear arsenal.

Iran maintains that the work is intended to produce nuclear energy.

Mr Ahmadinejad has addressed the UN General Assembly twice since 2005, but never the Security Council.


"The president of the Islamic Republic of Iran intends to attend a UN Security Council meeting to be held on Iran's nuclear case in order to defend the rights of the Iranian nation in exploiting peaceful nuclear energy," Iranian state TV quoted government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham as saying.

In December, the Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

The five permanent council members - the US, France, Britain, China and Russia - as well as Germany are currently in talks over a resolution to tighten those sanctions as Iran continues to defy the ban.

I would be surprised if they said they don't want to hear him
Dumisani Kumalo
UN Security Council

An address by Mr Ahmadinejad is unlikely to appease the international community, says the BBC's Frances Harrison in Tehran.

Mr Ahmadinejad has been one of the fiercest opponents of western pressure to suspend the nuclear work, comparing the programme to an unstoppable train with no brakes or reverse gear.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is seeking an audience at the UN

Such rhetoric has been criticised by some in Iran for undermining Iranian negotiators' efforts to seek a compromise solution, our correspondent says.

Any bid by Iran to attend a Security Council meeting would have be approved by in advance.

But it would be hard to reject any application by Mr Ahmadinejad, the current president of the Security Council, South Africa's Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said to Associated Press news agency.

"I would be surprised if they said they don't want to hear him," Mr Kumalo said.

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