Iran Defiant in Anniversary Speech

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran intends to send a satellite into space within months and will not retreat in a nuclear row with the West, its president said Monday in a defiant speech on the anniversary of the country's 1979 Islamic revolution.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed a major rally in Tehran a week after Iran sparked international concern by test-launching a rocket designed to carry its first domestically made research satellite into orbit.

"God willing, next summer the first 100 percent Iranian-made satellite will be positioned in orbit," he said.

The West fears Tehran is covertly trying to obtain nuclear bombs. Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, says it needs nuclear energy to meet booming electricity demand.

The technology used to put satellites into space could also be used for launching weapons, analysts say, and both the United States and Russia have expressed concern about the rocket test.

Russia, which has long argued there is no evidence Tehran is seeking atomic weapons, and which is supplying fuel for its Bushehr nuclear power station, said the test raised suspicions about the real nature of Iran's atomic program.

A top U.S. official said Iran's rocket launch and reports that it is testing an advanced centrifuge for uranium enrichment, which can have both civilian and military uses, were "troubling."

"It's hard to find a country in the world that's more isolated than Iran right now," U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told reporters in London on Monday.

But Ahmadinejad made clear that Iran would press ahead with its satellite work, signaling it would carry out two more rocket tests to prepare for the real launch.

State media last week said the research satellite, called Omid, or Hope, would be sent into orbit by March 2009.