Ahmadinejad criticizes threat of new US sanctions

In NBC interview Iranian president says IAEA should focus attention on "illegal Zionist regime"; Israel constantly threatening its neighbors.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 16, 2010 09:39
1 minute read.
Ahmadinejad speaking to press

Ahmadinejad speaking to press, squinting 311. (photo credit: AP Photo/Osama Faisal)

 
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TEHERAN, Iran  — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized the threat of new sanctions against his country Wednesday, saying Iran can survive without the aid of the United States and its allies.

Ahmadinejad told NBC News in an interview that Iran was justified in barring further visits by United Nations atomic inspectors.

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Ahmadinejad denied claims that Iran was being uncooperative and said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should instead focus its attention on Israel, which he named only as an illegal “Zionist regime.”

“They possess nuclear weapons, and they constantly threaten their neighbors,” he said. “And in the past year, they threatened Iran more than 10 times.”



"We in Iran are in a position to meet our own requirements," he said.



The UN Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions in June, saying Iran has refused to suspend uranium enrichment and start negotiations with the five permanent members and Germany. Tehran says its nuclear program is aimed solely at producing nuclear energy.

Asked about the apparent escalation of tensions in recent weeks over the topic of Koran burning in the US, Ahmadinejad said there was no conflict between the two cultures and blamed a small minority of Americans for fueling the rising anger between Muslims and Americans.

"Their interests lie in creating wars and conflicts," he said. "Koran is a heavenly book, a divine book. That was an ugly thing, to burn a holy book."

Ahmadinejad's comments came on the same day that the US, Britain and France expressed growing concern that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program and developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

The three Western powers were joined by Russia and China, which have close ties to Iran, in calling on the government in Teheran to return to negotiations on its nuclear program. China's deputy UN ambassador Wang Ming said, without elaborating, that "at present new opportunities have emerged for restarting dialogue."

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