ahmadinejad nuclear 224 .
(photo credit: AP)
Iran will "stand against" its enemies, Reuters quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying Friday, the day before a Saturday deadline Western officials set for the Islamic Republic to answer their offer to freeze nuclear expansion.
The nuclear issue itself, according to Ahmadinejad, was being used as an excuse by the country's enemies.
"The main reason for their enmity with this nation in the past 30 years is that they want to force the Iranian nation to retreat," he was quoted as saying.
"Whenever the enemies have failed against this nation they have tried to make excuses, but the Iranian nation will stand against them with its power."
Reuters reported that the Iranian president's comments attracted a fast response from the US, with White House spokeswoman Dana Perino calling them "unproductive." Ahmadinejad, she said "should instead be focused on the generous incentives package we've offered."
Two weeks ago, a US decision to bend policy and sit down with Iran at nuclear talks fizzled, with Teheran stonewalling Washington and five other world powers on their call for the Islamic Republic to halt uranium enrichment.
In response, the six had given Iran two weeks to respond to their demand, setting the stage for a fourth round of UN sanctions.
Iran's refusal to consider suspending enrichment was an indirect slap at the United States, which had sent Undersecretary of State William Burns to the talks in hopes the first-time American presence would encourage Teheran to make concessions.
Diplomats at the negotiating table refused to characterize the two-week time frame as an ultimatum, but it was clear the offer was a de-facto deadline for Teheran to show flexibility.