Sunday, May 01, 2005

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran issues nuclear warning to US

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran issues nuclear warning to US: "Iran issues nuclear warning to US
By Frances Harrison
BBC News, Tehran

Khamenei says the US cannot decide who has nuclear technology
The spiritual leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has warned the United States to stay out of his country's nuclear programme.
Speaking on a tour of south-east Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei said the US was arrogant, rude and deserved a punch in the mouth.

He also said Iran's presidential elections in June would not make any difference to its nuclear policy.

The US has expressed fears Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.

Enrichment warning

Ayatollah Khamenei said it was not up to the US to decide which countries needed nuclear technology.

He also warned that Iran's forthcoming presidential elections were nothing to do with the Americans.

No president would dare violate the country's national interests because the people would not allow it, he said.

His comments came as Iran warned on Saturday it might resume suspended enrichment-related activities next week in defiance of an agreement that is underpinning nuclear talks with Europe.

Iran is concerned that negotiations are dragging on too long and has proposed a phased resumption of its nuclear activities." - Iran and UK in row over airport - May 1, 2005 - Iran and UK in row over airport - May 1, 2005: "Iran and UK in row over airport
Sunday, May 1, 2005 Posted: 0944 GMT (1744 HKT)

TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) -- Hardline Iranian politicians called on the government on Sunday to sever all diplomatic ties with Britain in a rapidly escalating row over the opening of a new airport serving Tehran.

Britain and Canada issued warnings on Friday to travellers to avoid using the Imam Khomeini International Airport, which opened on Saturday, due to concerns the runway may be unsafe.

Iranian transport officials rejected the travel advisories and said the airport and runway had been inspected and approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Hardline politicians ignored the dispute over safety and focused their ire on an alleged request by London that the name of the airport, dedicated to the founding father of the 1979 Islamic revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, be changed.

"If Britain does not apologise to Iran we will break all ties with that country and expel Britain's ambassador," said Hamid Reza Hajibabaei, a member of parliament's presiding board.

"If true, we should ... not allow any British nationals to enter our country and we should naturally cut economic ties with that country," agreed Hossein Shariatmadari, editor-in-chief of the hardline Kayhan newspaper.

The British embassy in Tehran rejected the accusation as "nonsense".

"We have never requested that the name of the airport be changed," said Charge d'Affaires Matthew Gould. "Our only consideration is for the safety of the runway."

He said Britain had received reports about the existence of ancient irrigation channels, known as qanats, beneath the runway which could impair its strength and was urgently seeking reassurances from the ICAO and the Iranian government that corrective measures would be taken.

The first flights to and from the airport, located 30 miles (48 km) south of Tehran, began on Saturday with routes serving the nearby Gulf city of Dubai. Additional routes are due to be transferred there from Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport in the coming months.

Dubai-based Emirates airline said on Saturday it was satisfied the airport was safe."