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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2008, 19:59 GMT
Iran defiant over sanction threat
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iran's leader has called the UN report an historic victory
Iran's leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that no amount of UN sanctions will deter Tehran from its nuclear path.

"If they want to continue with that path of sanctions, we will not be harmed. They can issue resolutions for 100 years," he said in a TV interview.

His remarks came after a UN report said Iran was being more transparent - but had not given "credible assurances" that it was not building a bomb.

Tehran insists its programme is aimed purely at generating electricity.

Next move

Following the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said there was a "very strong case" for a third round of sanctions over the disputed nuclear programme.

Map of Iran nuclear sites

Ms Rice said that the report showed that Iran's efforts to halt its uranium enrichment programme were inadequate and that Washington would push for further UN action.

UN Security Council members the US, UK, China, France and Russia meet on Monday in Washington to consider their next step.

But Mr Ahmadinejad said the latest report by the UN nuclear watchdog represented an historic victory for Iran.

"I congratulate your eminence and the Iranian people on the historic victory of Iran in its greatest confrontation with the oppressive powers since the Islamic revolution" of 1979, Mr Ahmadinejad said in a message to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, quoted by state TV.

Questions avoided

The IAEA report released on Friday did praise Iran for granting its inspectors access to previously off-limits sites.

However, it said Iran remained evasive on key issues and had evaded a proper response to claims it had made secret efforts to "weaponise" nuclear material.

Condoleezza Rice on 22 December 2008
The US wants a new resolution on Iran agreed 'with some dispatch'
It had also ducked questions about alleged high explosives testing and design work on a missile warhead, the IAEA found, noting: "This is a matter of serious concern."

Iran was also still openly enriching uranium in defiance of UN resolutions and testing advanced centrifuges to speed up the process, said the inspectors.

As a result, the UN nuclear agency said it could offer "no credible assurances" that Iran was not building a bomb.

Issues remain

BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says the IAEA findings are definitely not a clean bill of health.

On Thursday, Britain and France introduced a UN Security Council resolution - a draft of which was approved last month - with support from the US, Russia, China and Germany.

It seeks to expand the number of Iranian companies targeted by sanctions and impose travel bans on certain Iranian officials.

A declassified US intelligence report last December judged that the Iranians had put a nuclear weapons programme on hold in 2003.

But the US, Israel and others contend Iran's continued advances in the crucial centrifuge work will eventually give it a capability to build a bomb.

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