Iran's leader calls for TV debate with Bush

"But the condition is that there can be no censorship, especially for the American nation," he said Tuesday.

Ahmadinejad blamed "special concessions" granted to the United States and Britain as "the root cause of all the problems in the world."

"At the Security Council, where they have to protect security, they enjoy the veto right. If anybody confronts them, there is no place to take complaints to."

His comments came during a news conference, currently taking place in Tehran, during which he is expected to respond to a United Nations ultimatum to suspend uranium enrichment or face possible sanctions.

The Islamic republic has until Thursday to comply to a Security Council resolution to halt the enrichment program, which Iran maintains is part of a civilian nuclear program.

Western nations accuse Iran of seeking to master technology to produce nuclear weapons.

"We expect no change in the Iranian position," said CNN's Aneesh Raman.

Iranian officials have insisted that their nuclear program is solely for peaceful generation of power and that they have no ambitions to build nuclear weapons.

On July 31, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution giving Iran until the end of next week to agree to suspend its uranium enrichment program, which would pave the way for the Tehran regime to receive financial incentives.

The United States has also held out the possibility of resuming direct contacts with Iran, more than 25 years after the two countries broke off diplomatic relations.

However, if the Iranians do not accept the offer, then the Security Council will discuss a resolution proposing economic sanctions on Iran.

While such a move is backed by three of the council's permanent members -- the United States, Britain and France -- the two others, Russia and China, have been cool to the idea and could use their veto to block a sanctions resolution.

Meanwhile, a senior Iranian official on Tuesday invited Western companies to bid for tenders to build nuclear plants, The Associated Press reported from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

"We have had ... another 21 thousand megawatts of nuclear power plants approved by the parliament that will be built in the next 20 years," Seyed Ala'addin Barojerdi, chairman of Iran's Parliament National Security and Foreign Affairs Commission, was quoted as saying.

"(The) international tenders for building of two of these nuclear power plants have been so far presented and we would be willing to see the Western companies participate in these projects," he said.

Western nations have been closing watching developments in Iran's nuclear program for signs of compliance. In recent days, Tehran has made public displays of new technologies and facilities.

On Sunday, state television reported that Iran test fired a long-range, radar-evading missile from a submarine in the Gulf as part of war games that began earlier this month. (Full story)

Some analysts interpreted the test and war games as thinly veiled threats that Iran could disrupt vital oil shipping lanes if pushed by an escalation in the nuclear dispute, according to Reuters.

A day earlier, Ahmadinejad officially opened a heavy-water production plant that he said would serve medical, agricultural and scientific needs. (Full story)

Video broadcast on Iranian television showed the president touring the plant in the central Iran city of Arak along with Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.

Heavy water is used in preparing uranium for nuclear weapons, but it is also useful for medical purposes, such as nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, according to Reuters.

"No one can deprive a nation of its rights based on its capabilities," the agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying in his speech to inaugurate the project.

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