President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran confronted opponents at home and abroad on Thursday, one of the most momentous days of his country’s political calendar, sending security forces onto the streets to break up opposition protests and taunting Western adversaries by claiming advances in Tehran’s nuclear capacity.
Speaking on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, which toppled Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, Mr. Ahmadinejad told a huge and closely orchestrated crowd of supporters in Tehran’s Azadi Square — also known as Freedom Square — that Iran was now a “nuclear state.”
“When we say we do not manufacture the bomb, we mean it, and we do not believe in manufacturing a bomb,” Mr. Ahmadinejad told the crowd, according to news reports.
But, apparently addressing the United States and its allies, he continued, “The Iranian nation is brave enough that if one day we wanted to build nuclear bombs we would announce it publicly without being afraid of you.”
Mr. Ahmadinejad brushed aside Western calls for more stringent sanctions, declaring that Iranian scientists had, for the first time, processed uranium to a level of 20 percent enrichment this week and claiming that Tehran could now attain much higher levels of enrichment.
Western experts have said that once Iran was able to enrich uranium to 20 percent it could theoretically move relatively quickly toward the manufacture of weapons-grade fuel, usually reckoned at 9… >>>