Ahmadinejad: critics of Iran nuclear program 'illegitimate'
In a rambling press conference during the UN conference on nuclear nonproliferation, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed that most countries support Iran's nuclear program.
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Despite this, Iran remains open to the idea of a nuclear fuel “swap” to power its Tehran research reactor, he said. But he cited the bad taste of historical precedent – France holding onto 50 tons of Iranian uranium, and other Western countries violating nuclear fuel accords with Iran after the Islamic revolution – to justify Iran’s wariness about the “conditions” fuel-supplying countries would put on any fuel delivery.Skip to next paragraph
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In any case, he said, Iran is now producing its own 20-percent-grade uranium required by the reactor, and he seemed to dismiss the continuing need for a swap of fuel in exchange for a substantial portion of Iran’s uranium stockpile.
Uranium swap involving Russia and France
The idea of the swap, first proposed by the UN’s nuclear International Atomic Energy Agency last year to involve Russian and French uranium, was born as international leaders sought a way to buy time for addressing the standoff between Iran and the international community.
“Buy time, buy time!” Ahmadinejad said, adding that in the meantime what he estimated to be 800,000 patients reliant on the medical isotopes provided by the research reactor are seeing their time slip away. “How are we supposed to work with that kind of logic?” he asked.
Known universally for advocating Israel’s destruction, Ahmadinejad instead said that Israel – which he called a militaristic state imposed on the Middle East by the West as a means of preserving its interests in the region – would self-destruct if it launched any new wars.
As for the US disclosure of the size of its nuclear weapons arsenal Monday, Ahmadinejad called it a “small step forward.” But with a faint smile he said the US was asking the world to accept its declaration as a fact, when no international inspection has been conducted to verify it.
“The US government should give the same respect to other governments,” he said, “it should trust others when they declare something.”
Maintaining his posture that any new international sanctions would not bend the Iranian "culture and civilization" into compliance with a "failed international order," Ahmadinejad offered a new perspective: that passing sanctions would actually affect President Obama more than Iran.
Saying Mr. Obama's agenda for "change" is under relentless attack from hawkish forces, the Iranian leader said a successful US push for sanctions would signal the victory of traditional US powers.