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Iran Won’t Yield to Pressure, Foreign Minister Says; Nuclear News Awaited

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the country will never cede to international pressure, the same day President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised to announce a milestone in the country’s nuclear field.

“This nation will never ever yield to pressure from outside,” Salehi told reporters in Tehran yesterday. “When you can’t differentiate between people and the government, what does pressure mean?”

Ahmadinejad, 55, yesterday announced he will unveil “major nuclear accomplishments” in coming days, the state-run Press TV news channel reported. His comments were made during a ceremony to commemorate the country’s Islamic Revolution.

Western nations have tightened economic sanctions against Iran, as the U.S. and its allies seek to avert a nuclear arms race in a region that’s home to 54 percent of global oil reserves. At stake for the Islamic republic is the collapse of its $352 billion economy, which would undermine the regime that swept to power 33 years ago.

European Union foreign ministers agreed on Jan. 23 to ban Iranian oil imports starting in July and to freeze the assets of Iran’s central bank. President Barack Obama Feb. 6 ordered a block on property and interests in property belonging to the Iranian government, its central bank and all Iranian financial institutions. The measures come on top of four rounds of United Nations sanctions against the country of 75 million people.

‘Empty’ Threats

Salehi on Feb. 10 said threats of a military strike against the country are “empty” and that Iran has already made preparations for the “worst scenario,” state-run Mehr news agency reported. He didn’t elaborate.

If the U.S. was able to take action against Iran, it would have already done so, Salehi said, when asked to comment on remarks by U.S. officials that all options are on the table, according to Mehr.

In a report published today, the state-run Fars news said that the government’s upcoming announcement regarding Iran’s nuclear progress may be about the finalized production of 20 percent nuclear fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor. Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Jan. 29 that the country will install within a month its first such plates at the research facility, which produces medical isotopes.

Iran’s government may also announce progress related to its underground Fordo nuclear facility site, to which all uranium enrichment activities to a 20 percent-purity level are being transferred, according to the Fars report. The process can generate fuel for a nuclear power reactor or, enriched to a concentration of 90 percent, be used to build nuclear weapons.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ladane Nasseri in Dubai at lnasseri@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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