Biden: Iran sowing seeds of its own destruction
As Ahmadinejad suggests in state TV interview exchange for three US hikers jailed in Iran, indicates softened position on uranium deal, US vice president says Iranian regime has lost 'moral credibility' among its people, but warns that not all anti-regime figures are necessarily pro-Western
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested in a television interview Tuesday that Iran would release three jailed US hikers in exchange for Iranians currently serving in American prisons.
Iran also said it was ready to send its uranium abroad for further enrichment as requested by the UN. Ahmadinejad said Iran would have no "problem" giving the West its low enriched uranium and taking it back several months later when it is enriched by 20%. The decision is a major shift in the Iranian position on the issue.
"There are some talks underway to have an exchange, if it is possible," he said, explaining that there were several Iranians jailed for years without charges in US prisons.
"Recently they (the US) have sent messages, we answered to bring them (the Iranians), to bring these people (the hikers). We are hopeful that all prisoners to be released."
Ahmadinejad did not mention any specific cases but one of the country's top prosecutors in December raised concerns over 11 Iranians in US prisons.
Iran has released a list of 11 Iranians it says are being held in the US including a nuclear scientist who disappeared in Saudi Arabia and a former Defense Ministry official who vanished in Turkey. The list also includes an Iranian arrested in Canada on charges of trying to obtain nuclear technology.
'Not everyone opposed to regime is pro-West'
US Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that Iran's leaders were "sowing the seeds of their own destruction" through their harsh crackdown on anti-government unrest.
"The people of Iran are thinking about, the very people marching, they're thinking about regime change," Biden told MSNBC when asked whether it was time for "regime change" in Iran since President Barack Obama's effort to engage the Islamic republic had failed to make progress.
"When they acted as they did, when the first protest broke out and people were brutalized, they lost their moral credibility in their own country and around the region," Biden said.
"Does that mean everybody who's opposed to present regime is pro-Western? No," Biden said. "But it means they're opposed to the present regime.
They're sowing the seeds for their own destruction in terms of being able to hold onto power," Biden said.
"We are moving with the world including Russia and others to put sanctions on them. I think that we've moved in the right direction in a measured way. ... We're going to end up much better off than we would have if we'd tried to go in there and just physically change the regime."
The New York Times reported over the weekend that the US is accelerating its stationing of anti-missile defense shields in the Persian Gulf. According to the newspaper, installation of the anti-missile system in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE is meant, among other things, to signal to Israel that there is no immediate need to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report