Ayatollah backs Ahmadinejad on nukes

Iran’s top spiritual leader praised the government for standing up to the international community over its nuclear program.

“Some domineering countries and their worthless followers want to get their own way with the Iranian nation, but the nation, the president and the government have stood up to them,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a meeting Saturday with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cabinet, according to state television.

Khamenei rarely puts this much support behind a politician, according to reports.

Iran is facing another round of United Nations sanctions after refusing to halt uranium enrichment. The Islamic Republic says the uranimum is being used to produce nuclear energy, but it can also be used to make an atomic bomb.

Meanwhile, a senior Iranian atomic official said Sunday in remarks published by the official IRNA news agency that Iran has started designing a second nuclear power plant.

A site for the new plant has been chosen, said Mohammad Saeedi, the deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

Saeedi said his country is in the process of arranging a visit to Iran by the head of Russia’s nuclear energy agency, IRNA reported.

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