Iran says it wants 'respectful' negotiations

Foreign Ministry spokesperson says Iran prepared to negotiate; Ahmadinejad says he won't retreat "a needle's width."

Iran flags ahmadinejad 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran flags ahmadinejad 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran remains ready to engage in negotiations with world powers concerned about its nuclear program, its Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.
"We have always announced that we are ready for positive and useful negotiations but, as we have mentioned repeatedly, the condition for those talks to be successful is that we enter those negotiations in a stance of equality and respect for nations' rights," Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by the website of Iran's Arabic language al-Alam television.
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Mehmanparast said the resumption of talks - which, ifsuccessful could lead to an easing of sanctions on Iran -depended on the actions of the other countries
"We will observe all the behavior and moves of the 5+1completely and we will make our final decision by studying thesituation and their moves," he said.
"If we feel the situation is ready for constructive talkswith cooperation then we will announce our response."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday declared that Tehran will not pull back "even a needle's width" from its nuclear path, even after an incriminating UN report on its nuclear program.
Decrying the UN nuclear watchdog's report, which was released Tuesday night, Ahmadinejad said it damaged the International Atomic Energy Agency's dignity and was based on "invalid" US claims."You should know that this nation will not pull back even aneedle's width from the path it is on," he said in a speechcarried live on Iranian state television. "Why do you damage theagency's dignity because of America's invalid claims?" he asked.
Ahmadinejad's comments echoed those of Iran's IAEA envoy on Tuesday, who spoke shortly after the report's release.
"The IAEA report is unbalanced, unprofessional and politically motivated," said Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the IAEA.
The Iranian ambassador said the IAEA report "did not contain any new issue."
"Despite Iran's readiness for negotiations, the IAEA published the report ... which will harm its reputation," Soltanieh said. On Wednesday, hours before the report was released, Ahmadinejad criticized IAEA chair Yukiyo Amano, calling him a pawn for US interests.
Ahmadinejad said that IAEA was a tool for a few countries bent on world domination, and stated that Iran would continue to pursue nuclear development despite international pressure.
"They have empowered a person in the IAEA that has no authority and violates the agency's rules by repeating the words of the US," the Iranian president said according to Iranian semi-official FARS News Agency.
Ahamdinejad made the comments just as the IAEA was expected to release a report detailing intelligence about Tehran's nuclear capabilities.
The Iranian president also lashed out at the United States, saying Iran does not need an atomic bomb to "cut off [the] US's hands," official Iranian PressTV reported.
Noting that the United States possesses over 5,000 nuclear warheads,  Ahmadinejad accused Washington of arrogance in its campaign against Tehran.
The US, he said, has allocated "$81 billion to upgrade its atomic bombs, while the entire annual budget of Iran's nuclear research is merely $250 million," according to the report.
The UN nuclear watchdog report is expected to show recent activity in Iran that could help in developing nuclear warheads, including computer models of such weapons.