Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - If Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has any fear of international repercussions after refusing to comply with United Nations demands that he halt his uranium enrichment program, he wasn't showing it on Friday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency verified on Thursday that Iran had indeed defied the international community and showed no signs of halting its uranium enrichment program, reports said.
The move opened the way for international sanctions after the deadline passed for Iran to comply. Iran insists that its nuclear agenda is entirely peaceful, but the U.S. and other Western nations believe it is a cover for developing nuclear weapons. Enriching uranium can yield fuel for nuclear energy but is also necessary for making a bomb.
In a speech in northwestern Iran, Ahmadinejad promised to resist any attempts to force his country to give up what he called Iran's "nuclear rights."
"The united Iranian nation [will] resist to fully utilize nuclear know-how and [will] not give up one iota of its nuclear rights," Ahmadinejad said on Friday, according to the Iranian news agency IRNA.
On Thursday, Ahmadinejad said that his country would not "succumb to bullying, invasion and the violation of its rights."
President Bush said it was time for Iran to choose but warned there would be consequences for Iran's actions.
"It is time for Iran to make a choice," President Bush said in a speech in Utah on Thursday.
"We've made our choice: We will continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution -- but there must be consequences for Iran's defiance, and we must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon," Bush said.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton was quoted as saying that the Security Council would wait to discuss its options until after European Union Foreign Policy advisor Javier Solana meets with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, next week.
The U.S. has been pushing for sanctions for more than a year but was forced to support more investigations and negotiations because of a lack of support for such a move from other Security Council members. Russia and China -- two of the five permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council -- have so far refused to support sanctions.
Israel is keeping its eye on the international reaction to Iran's defiance, press reports said. Some officials have said previously that the only way to make Iran back down is to threaten to use force and be willing to do so if all else fails.
Israel has urged the international community for years to deal with Iran, insisting that the radical regime there and its development of a nuclear program is a threat to the entire world, not just to Israel.
Some international observers have expected Israel to handle the situation on its own, as it did when Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor shortly before it was to go into use in 1981.
But Israeli experts have said that dealing with Iran's nuclear aspirations is much more complicated since its nuclear facilities are spread throughout the country, and many are hidden in protected underground bunkers.
Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz discussed the issue of Iran at regular security consultations on Thursday evening, the defense ministry said.
"A nuclear Iran under the current extreme regime constitutes a threat to the Middle East and the world," Peretz said in a statement.
Iran "publicly calls for the destruction of Israel and supports terrorism throughout the Middle East. Iran stood behind Hizballah's control of south Lebanon and its transformation into a base for terrorism. It also supports Palestinian terrorist organizations with the aim of preventing any chance for a peace agreement," he said.
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