Ahmadinejad Natanz 248.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
The US ambassador to the United Nations said Thursday that President Barack Obama's administration will seek to end Iran's nuclear ambition and its support for terrorism - comments that drew an immediate rebuke from Iran's UN envoy.
Ambassador Mohammad Khazee said Iran has never and will never try to acquire nuclear weapons and dismissed US Ambassador Susan Rice's allegation that Iran engages in terrorism as "baseless and absurd."
Rice brought up Iran at an open meeting of the UN Security Council on Iraq, saying the long-term US commitment to Iraq and the reduction of the US military presence in the country had to be understood "in a larger, regional context" that included Afghanistan, the Middle East and Iran.
The United States "will seek an end to Iran's ambition to acquire an illicit nuclear capacity and its support for terrorism," Rice said. "It will aim to encourage both Iran and Syria to become constructive regional actors..."
Her comments came as the Obama administration is reviewing US policy toward Iran.
Obama has signaled a willingness for dialogue with Iran, particularly over the nuclear program. At his inauguration last month, the president said his administration would reach out to rival states, declaring "we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responded by saying Iran would welcome talks with the United States - but only if there was mutual respect. Iranian officials have said that would mean the United States would need to stop making "baseless" accusations against the Islamic Republic.
On Wednesday, Iranian state radio said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's choice of Dennis Ross as her special adviser on the Persian Gulf signaled no change in the US stance toward Iran. "Ross strongly backs stepping up sanctions against Iran ... (and) supports profound US-Israeli cooperation to confront Iran's nuclear activities," the broadcast said.
In a letter to the Security Council immediately after Rice spoke on Thursday, Khazee called Rice's allegations "baseless."
"Iran's nuclear program has been, is, and will remain absolutely peaceful, and Iran has never tried nor will ever try to acquire nuclear weapons," he said.
"It is unfortunate that, yet again, we are hearing the same tired, unwarranted and groundless allegations that used to be unjustifiably and futilely repeated by the previous US administration," Khazee said.
The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report, which said Iran now possesses 1,010 kilograms - 2,222 pounds - of low-enriched uranium, has raised concern that Iran now has sufficient uranium and the means to enrich it further to produce both nuclear fuel and the fissile core of nuclear warheads.
As for the US accusation that Iran is promoting terrorist activities, Khazee said, "as a victim of terrorism, we have always condemned terrorism in all its aspects and manifestations."
"Instead of raising allegations against others, the United States had better take concrete and meaningful steps in correcting its past wrong policies and practices vis-a-vis other nations including the Islamic Republic of Iran," Khazee said