BY EDWARD YERANIAN FOR VOA NEWS – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Iran is willing to resume nuclear talks, but not until August, so as to “punish” the West. His comments were included in a flurry of anti-Western rhetoric to mark the anniversary of a 1981 explosion that killed key figures and dozens of supporters of Iran’s revolution.
Mr. Ahmadinejad says Iran is postponing nuclear talks because the West issued a Security Council resolution against it, supposedly to give them the upper hand in negotiations. He says Iran considers it immoral, and for this reason Tehran is delaying negotiations until late August, to “punish the West so they learn how to speak properly with other nations.”
Mr. Ahmadinejad told a press conference the United States, along with Israel and Great Britain, is Iran’s chief “enemy.”
He says hopes that President Barack Obama would “change” the nature of relations between Iran and the United States have been dashed. He says other U.N. Security Council members may have voted for sanctions against Iran, but that they still are not considered to be enemies of his country.
The Iranian president says he still considers Russia and China to be “friendly” states. He claims they supported the recent, new sanctions resolution against his country because of the importance of their ties with the United States.
Mr. Ahmadinejad also stressed that he wants Brazil and Turkey to negotiate alongside his country in fuel-swap negotiations, against the United States, France and Russia, which he says have played an adversarial role in past talks. He said the talks should be based on a fuel-swap deal mediated last month by Brazil and Turkey.
Responding to a question about whether Iran is ready to suspend production of highly enriched uranium if a deal is eventually reached, Mr. Ahmadinejad avoided a direct response, answering vaguely that Iran would only enrich quantities of uranium it needs.
Mr. Ahmadinejad says that some nations want Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent because they say Tehran wants to build a bomb. He says they should first disarm their own bombs if they are afraid of bombs, because bombs are dangerous wherever they are.
Iran has repeatedly insisted its nuclear program is intended for peaceful, civilian purposes. The United States and other nations suspect Tehran of working to build nuclear weapons.
CIA Director Leon Panetta told ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that Iran has enough enriched uranium to produce two atomic bombs, but that it could take Tehran up to two years to physically build those bombs, if it decided to do so.