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Ahmadinejad: Iran 'could have behaved better,' IAEA has 'double standards'

At a dinner last night, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran was open to concessions on its nuclear program, though he decried the IAEA's lack of oversight of Israel's nuclear facilities.

By Mike EckelCorrespondent / September 25, 2012

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at a high level meeting at United Nations headquarters Monday, Sept. 24.

Seth Wenig/AP

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New York

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last night insisted his country was ready to make concessions on its controversial nuclear program, but again accused Israel of fomenting tension in the Middle East and criticized international atomic regulators for what he called “double-standards.”

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Mixing blustery rhetoric with conciliatory remarks, the Iranian leader also told a dinner of academics and students at a New York hotel that the violent protests that erupted in many Muslim countries over a YouTube video mocking the prophet Muhammad were indicative of the “negative mindset” of many Muslims toward the US. 

Iran has made mistakes, Iran could have behaved better,” he said, speaking through a translator. “We are ready for transparent dialogue…. We are ready to help to eliminate negative mindsets.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s discussion was one in a long list of media and public speaking events for the Iranian leader ahead of his speech before the United Nations General Assembly tomorrow. The Iranian leader had interviews with CNN, PBS, and a long list of US media outlets.

Nuclear concerns

His remarks come as rhetoric has reached alarming levels in the Middle East, with Israeli officials claiming that Iran is nearing a “zone of immunity,” when a military attack on its nuclear facilities will be impossible and Iran will be able to manufacture nuclear weapons without restriction.

Tehran has repeatedly said its nuclear program is for peaceful energy and research purposes. However, International Atomic Energy Agency officials have documented some moves by Iran that suggest it is keeping its options open, for example, for making highly enriched uranium that could be used in a bomb.

“Iran is entitled to domestic uranium enrichment,” Ahmadinejad said. “It is a legitimate right…. And what rights do you have if you do not use them?”

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