Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed that Tehran will not negotiate over its nuclear rights but said his government is prepared to answer questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Ahmadinejad said Iran has already achieved proficiency in the whole nuclear fuel cycle, from extracting uranium ore to enriching it, and that Tehran has removed any hurdles in the way of its nuclear progress.
“The Iranian nation favors talks but it won’t negotiate over its definite and legal nuclear rights. They (world powers) have to know this,” Ahmadinejad said in comments before Friday prayers in Tehran.
He added he believed the nuclear issue was over and Iran will ignore attempts by the United States and its European allies to further politicize the issue.
“From our point of view, Iran’s nuclear issue has been closed. The fact that these powers are screaming tells us the case is closed. This is a great victory for the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.
Two rounds of UN Security Council sanctions have failed to force Iran to halt its nuclear progress.
The United States, France and Britain are seeking a third round of sanctions against Iran but in a setback for the US, Iran won a two-month reprieve from new UN Security Council sanctions over its nuclear program last month.
The Bush administration and its European allies ceded to Russian and Chinese demands to give Tehran more time to address West’s concerns.
The US and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons but they do not have any corroborative documents to prove their allegations. Tehran has denied the charges saying its nuclear program is merely geared towards generating electricity, not bomb.
Iran says it will never give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.
Meanwhile, US President George W. Bush denied in an interview with Arab television that the US is gearing up to attack Iran and said he remains committed to working diplomatically to resolve the standoff with Tehran over its nuclear program.
The US president, in an hour-long interview with Al-Arabiya, also reiterated his pledge to negotiate with Iran once it gives up its nuclear program.
“I have said that if they suspend their nuclear program, we will be at the table,” Bush said, according to a transcript of the interview the White House released on Friday. “But they have so far refused to do that.”
Bush brushed off as “gossip” reports in the Arab press that he has issued orders to senior US military officials to prepare for a major, precise strike on Iran during the end of January or February.
“I would call that empty propaganda,” Bush said.