Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday his country could withstand sanctions and the pressure of the United States and its allies over Tehran's nuclear program.
"Sanctions cannot stop the Iranian nation. The Iranian nation is able to withstand the pressure of the United States and its allies," Ahmadinejad told a news conference. "While we do not welcome sanctions, we do not fear them either."
The Iranian leader also said his country would not withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as North Korea has done.
On Monday, Ahmadinejad said in a televised interview that Iran was not interested in developing nuclear weapons under any circumstances, adding that he considered U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton an enemy of Iran.
Ahmadinejad, who spoke to Charlie Rose on PBS, was in the United States for the opening of a month-long review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in New York.
Asked by Rose whether he categorically rejected reports of Iran's nuclear weapons aspirations under any circumstances, the Iranian president said "exactly so. I tell you, categorically," adding that the possession of nuclear weaponry ran counter to Muslim values.
"It is against our culture. It's against our beliefs. And we simply cannot accept to have it," Ahmadinejad said.
The Iranian president also added he considered the position taken by Clinton as hostile to Tehran, saying "Miss Clinton is an enemy of Iran, it's quite clear from the position she takes.
"She's always threatened Iran, and the [International Atomic Energy] Agency does not have any evidence suggesting that Iran has deviated from the legal framework of the IAEA, no documentation," the Iranian president said, adding that Clinton's stance was a "political move."
On Monday, Clinton told the United Nations General Assembly that the Middle East should stay free of nuclear weapons, saying the U.S. was "prepared to support practical measures for achieving that objective".
"The Middle East may present the greatest threat of nuclear proliferation in the world today," Clinton said, adding, in what could be considered as a reference to Iran's contentious nuclear program, that several states in the region had failed to conform to the international non-proliferation treaty, known as the NPT.
"Adherence to the NPT is not universal. And a few countries that are parties to the NPT have violated their treaty obligations. But in spite of these difficulties, we want to reaffirm our commitment to the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, and we are prepared to support practical measures for achieving that objective," Clinton said.
In his Monday interview, Ahmadinejad also referred to the effort led by U.S. President Barack Obama to sanction Iran over its nuclear program, saying that those threats were "just a posture," while claiming that he had made peaceful gestures to Obama, which he said were left unanswered.
"I sent a message. I sent a written letter saying that I'm really truly sending my hand to him. And I sent a message saying that we are prepared to cooperate in the following fields that I express in the letter," Ahmadinejad said.
Speaking of the threat of a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, the Iranian president said his country was "not afraid of an attack. It does not mean that a threat is not an ugly posture."
"A country that threatens has done a very ugly thing. Sure, we're not afraid of them. But when an ugly thing happens, it’s ugly," Ahmadinejad said, adding that Iran needed "Mr. Obama to change."
"But what he means is to extend the sanctions against Iran. Those sanctions were of no use to begin with, the ones that were extended. It didn’t change the atmosphere you can say," Ahmadinejad said.
The Iranian president added he felt Iran had given "Obama plenty of opportunity. But it seems to me that there are some that want Mr. Obama to reach a point where instead of cooperating with Iran, he starts inferring resolutions against Iran."
"Mr. Obama came with the idea of change with the motive of change. Where has he done it? Where? What corner of the world? In Iraq, in Afghanistan?" Ahmadinejad asked.
Ahmadinejad claimed that Iran had been cooperating with both the NPT and the UN's nuclear watchdog, saying "all of Iran's nuclear activities are being watched by cameras installed by the IAEA in all of our nuclear facilities."
"Now, show me one single nuclear facility in the United States that comes under the watch of the IAEA cameras," the Iranian president said.
Ahmadinejad added that Iran supported a worldwide nuclear disarmament, arguing that all nuclear weapons, including the United States, should disarm.
"We welcome openness in proliferation," Ahmadinejad told Charlie rose, saying Iran has carried out its duty. "We are prepared to show the path towards disarmament. We’re prepared to sit down and give political assistance, provide proposals on how the United States and other nuclear countries that possess the nuclear bomb can disarm."
Once those nations disarm, Ahmadinejad said," the solution is there, it’s finished."
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