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Iran's tough stance a hit at home

Iranians held pro-nuclear rally in Tehran Wednesday.

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To maximize media impact, Iran's hardline Basiji militia waited hours until the live cameras were rolling to start its pro-nuclear rally Wednesday in front of the British Embassy in Tehran.

Several hundred protesters gathered to declare their support of Iran's controversial nuclear program, and to blast the US and Europeans - who suspect a secret weapons program, and last week voted to refer Iran to the UN Security Council because of reporting violations - with accusations and threats.

But the ready-for-camera vitriol and flag-burning only hints at the breadth of popular support here for Iran's tough nuclear stance, which is complicating Western efforts to convince Iran to give up such technology.

"Our aim is to use this energy, and our nation will not let us forget about it," Mohammad Vadoud Haydari thundered from the podium.

"Confrontation with those bullying Western governments is our legitimate right," added Mr. Haydari, a medical student at Tehran University and a leader of the Basiji, a militia force loyal to the regime. "They should know that not only the interests of the US and Western countries will be jeopardized, but American territory itself shall not be safe from our basijis."

Eggs, tomatoes and stones were thrown at the embassy, and police used tear gas to keep protestors back from the embassy gates. Calling the British embassy a new "den of spies" - the term frequently used to describe the US embassy here, which was taken over in 1979 - the students Wednesday vowed to "repeat" the event.

Uncompromising rhetoric has long been a feature of the Islamic Republic. But while some of the tough talk may echo the bellicose declarations of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, hardliners are not alone in embracing Iran's unbending nuclear view.

Iranians across the political spectrum say they welcome Iran's tougher stance, and argue - just like Mr. Ahmadinejad and the clerical leadership - that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) gives them the right to peaceful nuclear technology and homemade nuclear fuel.


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