Iranian President insists on nuclear energy program for peaceful purposes

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said Thursday that his country will present "new proposals" shortly to break the impasse with Western nations over Iran's nuclear programs. He insisted that Iran will continue to pursue a nuclear energy program for peaceful purposes.

At the United Nations on Thursday evening, the Iranian president met with Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and the European Union and told them he would be making the details public in a speech to the General Assembly on Saturday.

Emerging from the evening meeting, Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary, said: "What we are going to do is to listen carefully to what the president says Saturday afternoon and take it from there."

Ahmadinejad's speech on Saturday is expected to outline a new proposal aimed at reviving stalled negotiations with Britain, France, Germany and the European Union over Iran's suspected nuclear arms program, New York Times informs.

As part of those talks, Iran had suspended certain uranium conversion activities, which the West thinks are a precursor to making a weapon. The uranium work was resumed last month.

Ahmadinejad, speaking to editors, reporters and television interviewers in the morning, described atomic energy as "a blessing given by God."

He said, "It's an opportunity. It is a clean energy. It is a healthy energy."

Ahmadinejad added that Iran needs nuclear energy because it can't rely forever on its oil resources.

Asked repeatedly whether Iran had not discredited itself by its failure to disclose past nuclear activities, Ahmadinejad said Iran does not have nuclear weapons and "there is absolutely no proof of a violation on the part of Iran" of its pledge to keep its nuclear program peaceful.

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