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Iran says to continue nuclear path before deadline

IRAN: Iran will press ahead with its nuclear path, the country’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Wednesday, speaking just before a deadline set by Western officials in a nuclear dispute.

Western powers gave Iran two weeks from July 19 to respond to their offer to hold off on imposing more U.N. sanctions on Iran if Tehran would freeze any expansion of its nuclear work.

That would suggest a deadline of Saturday, although Russia, one of the six powers facing Iran, has opposed a deadline and Iran dismissed the idea of having two weeks to reply.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said in London that if Iran continued regardless, there should be an “immediate, firm and serious response” from European countries.

“I’m very disappointed about the latest statement made by Mr Khamenei ... about their intention to continue in any case with the nuclear program of enrichment of uranium,” he said.

Khamenei was quoted by radio as saying the West wanted to stop Iran mastering technology to make electricity.

Tehran, Thursday, Reuters

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