Ahmadinejad: Iran will never stop nuke plan
In NBC-TV interview, Iranian president says his country will 'never' abandon its disputed nuclear program to appease Western critics, fails to offer direct response when asked whether there are any conditions under which Tehran will develop bomb. 'We don't need nuclear weapons,' he says
In an NBC-TV interview, the Iranian leader also did not offer a direct response when asked whether there were any conditions under which Iran would develop a nuclear weapon.
"We don't need nuclear weapons," Ahmadinejad said, speaking through an interpreter.
"We do not see any need for such weapons. And the conditions around the world are moving to favor our ideas," Ahmadinejad added.
Iran has repeatedly said it is enriching uranium only to generate electricity, not for fissile bomb material, although it has no nuclear power plants to use low-level enriched uranium.
Ahmadinejad said Iran would "never" halt work on its nuclear program to mollify Western skeptics.
Iran is set to attend talks on October 1 with major powers worried about its nuclear strategy. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week any talks with Iran would have to address the nuclear issue.
"We have always believed in talking, in negotiating, that's our logic. "Nothing has changed," Ahmadinejad said, speaking through an interpreter.
"If you are talking about the enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes, this will never be closed down here in Iran," he said.
The P-5 plus 1 (the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany) is concerned that Iran's nuclear enrichment program is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday that it has no proof that Iran has or once had a covert atomic bomb program, dismissing a media report that the IAEA had concluded Iran was on its way to producing nuclear weapons.
In the NBC interview, Ahmadinejad also defended the legality of his re-election last spring, "I don't see any problems."
Envoy: Iran sees new 'opportunity' in nuke talks
Meanwhile, the Iranian ambassador to the UN nuclear watchdog agency has said his country believes next month's talks with major powers worried about its nuclear strategy represent a real opportunity.
"This is a real, new window of opportunity that is being opened by the Iranian nation," Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told The Washington Post in an interview published on its website late on Thursday.
"They should immediately and promptly seize this opportunity."
Soltanieh repeated Iran's position that it would not agree to use the October 1 meeting to negotiate away its right to a nuclear program.
He said the meeting should be a forum for a broad exchange of views.
"When you sit down at a negotiating table without preconditions, with mutual respect, the rules of the game are that everyone has a right to raise anything. No one can restrict the other to express themselves," he said.
Soltanieh, who represents Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Tehran would not respond well to a dual "carrot-and-stick" approach offering a choice between dialogue or sanctions, which he called humiliating.
"If you tell me 'You must,' I say 'no.' If you say 'please,' the answer might be 'yes' or 'maybe,'" he said.