Ahmadinejad: Iran will punish West for new nuclear sanctions
Iranian president criticizes U.S., saying its citizens and press are not allowed to speak out against Israel and its 'crimes.'
Iran's president said Wednesday he will soon announce new conditions for talks with the West. But first, he wants to punish world powers for imposing sanctions on Tehran and force them to "sit at the negotiating table like a polite child and talk to the Iranian nation."
The United Nations Security Council approved a new round of sanctions against Iran last week for its refusal to curb the country's nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies suspect is aimed at producing weapons. Iran denies that.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran favors a dialogue with the West, but will announce its conditions soon. He said the carrot-and-stick approach doesn't work and Iran will not make "one iota of concessions" to the West.
"You showed bad temper, reneged on your promise and again resorted to devilish manners," he said of the powers that imposed sanctions. "We set conditions [for talks] so that, God willing, you'll be punished a bit and sit at the negotiating table like a polite child," he told a crowd during a visit to the central Iranian town of Shahr-e-Kord. His speech was broadcast live on state TV.
Ahmadinejad also attacked the U.S., saying Iran needs to save Americans from their "undemocratic and bullying government." He charged there was no freedom in the U.S. and newspapers in America were not authorized to write against Israel or hold rallies against the "crimes" committed by their government.
Ahmadinejad was reacting to an invitation by the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili to discuss the nuclear issue. At the same time, though, EU foreign ministers agreed Monday to recommend additional sanctions over the nuclear issue.
The UN sanctions were imposed because of Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can be used in both the production of nuclear fuel for power plants or nuclear weapons. The punishments target the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard, its ballistic missile program and nuclear-related investments.
Ahmadinejad has dismissed the sanctions as "annoying flies" and as "useless as a used tissue."
Also Wednesday, Iran's nuclear chief says his country is designing a new atomic research reactor in another snub of international efforts to curb the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions.
State TV's website quotes Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi as saying that the new reactor will be more powerful than the aging, 5-megawatt U.S.-made research reactor operating in Tehran that is used to make radioactive isotopes for medical purposes. He says Iran eventually plans to build four such reactors.
Iran's first energy-producing reactor is scheduled to begin operations this summer.
Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Wednesday that lawmakers back the government's push to enrich uranium to higher levels as a response to bullying countries.
Beyond Iran's well-established program that produces low-enriched uranium, it has begun to enrich to nearly 20 percent through a small-scale program using low-enriched feedstock. That program has added to concerns about Iran's nuclear activities.
It is much easier to produce highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium for use in nuclear warheads from 20 percent material than from low-enriched uranium. Iran justified its decision to go to higher enrichment by saying it would be part of a process to create fuel for a research reactor producing medical isotopes after a deal meant to provide such fuel from abroad fell apart.
Larijani also warned that Iran will reciprocate if the U.S. or other countries inspect Iranian planes or ships in line with new sanctions.
"We warn the U.S. and some adventurist countries that should they be tempted to inspect consignment of Iranian planes and ships, they should rest assured that we will reciprocate [by inspecting] their ships in the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea," he said.