Iran Doesn't 'Give A Damn' About U.N. Pressure On Nuclear Program

President Bush says diplomatic efforts are 'just beginning.'

The potential for a showdown between the West and a defiant Iran gained steam on Thursday when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he did not "give a damn" about suspicions from the U.N. Security Council that his country had defied the world group in concealing its nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report Friday (April 27) that declared Iran had refused to stop enriching uranium and has been stalling IAEA inquiries into its atomic program, according to a Reuters report. Both moves were in defiance of demands set by the Security Council a month ago.

"Those who want to prevent Iranians from obtaining their right should know that we do not give a damn about such resolutions," Ahmadinejad said during a rally in northwest Iran on Friday. "Today, they want to force us to give up our way through threats and sanctions. But those who resort to language of coercion should know that nuclear energy is a national demand, and, by the grace of God, today Iran is a nuclear country."

According to The Associated Press, the eight-page report written by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said that after more than three years of an IAEA investigation, "the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern. ... Progress in that regard requires full transparency and active cooperation by Iran."

President Bush said the issuing of the IAEA report was an important step in dealing with Iran and that diplomatic efforts were "just beginning," according to CNN. "It reminds the nations of the world that there is an ongoing diplomatic effort to convince the Iranians to give up their nuclear-weapons ambitions," said Bush, who added that he was consulting with allies about the situation. "Diplomacy is my first choice and should be the first choice of any president," he said. The president's comments come two weeks after a report in The New Yorker magazine said the U.S. is already gearing up for potential military action against Iran over the impasse (see "As Tensions Mount, How Much Of A Threat Is Iran?").

The heated rhetoric came after comments earlier this week in which Iranian authorities threatened to strike U.S. targets around the world if the U.S. launched an attack on the country. Iran's U.N. envoy, Javad Zarif, said Thursday that his country would not heed any Security Council resolution to rein in its nuclear work because of Tehran's belief that it poses no threat to world peace and security, according to Reuters.

"If the Security Council decides to take decisions that are not within its competence, then Iran does not feel obliged to obey," Zarif said.

Ahmadinejad had confirmed earlier this month that Iran had enriched uranium to a level suitable for use in power plants and that the country was doing research into methods of purifying the radioactive isotope even faster.

The defiance sets up a showdown with the U.N. Security Council, which is scheduled to meet next week to discuss possibly taking steps against Iran, according to a press briefing given by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton on Friday morning. Bolton said that the U.S. is "ready to take action in the Security Council to move to a resolution.''

So far, the IAEA has found no "smoking gun" proving that Iran is pursuing nuclear arms, according to the AP, but a series of reports have revealed secret activities that have raised concerns — like plutonium processing — and documents, including drawings of how to mold weapons-grade uranium metal into the shape of a warhead.