Benita Ferrero-Waldner 2.
(photo credit: AP)
Iran's nuclear capability has increased "tenfold," despite Western pressure to roll back the country's nuclear program, the firebrand president of the country said Monday.
"The enemies, resorting to propaganda, want to block us from achieving (nuclear technology)," Ahmadinejad told a crowd on the southern outskirts of Teheran. "But they should know that today, the capability of our nation has multiplied tenfold over the same period last year."
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Ahmadinejad boasted that "the power of our enemies is less than one-tenth of their power in the last year."
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The president did not elaborate, and the remarks appeared aimed primarily at rallying public support as the UN Security Council prepares to consider a draft resolution imposing limited sanctions on Iran because of its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
In the speech, Ahmadinejad repeated that Iran was ready to negotiate with the West about its nuclear ambitions. However, the West has insisted that Teheran first suspend enrichment.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday he was hopeful talks with the Iranians would resume and that there was a "real chance" for a negotiated settlement without sanctions.
However, the EU external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said that Teheran had not responded positively to the incentives package and that the Security Council may need to explore "another alternative."