Iran won't suspend nuclear work to improve ties with US
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Iran would not suspend its controversial nuclear enrichment programme for the sake of improving ties with the United States, dpa reported.
"We have already gone beyond the discussion of suspension (of uranium enrichment) and will decisively continue our (nuclear) path," Ahmadinejad said in an interview with state television network IRIB.
"If the US wanted real changes then they should first ask themselves that who are we to interfere (in Iran's affairs and legitimate nuclear rights)," the president added in the interview.
Since the inauguration of US President Barack Obama, Iran and the US appeared intent to end three decades of political estrangement and at least resume direct talks on Iran's nuclear programmes as well as the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Ahmadinejad, however, pointed out that although Iran was interested in "adopting a realistic approach" towards the US, it would not make any concessions in the nuclear dispute for the sake of improving ties with Washington.
"I have recently had a one-and-a-half-hour talk with one of the prime ministers who urged me to show some flexibility on the (enrichment) suspension issue. All I said at the end was a simple no," the president said, adding Iran needed to be strong and decisive in order to maintain its independence.
Despite three United Nations Security Council resolutions and financial sanctions, Iran has so far declined to meet international demands to suspend its enrichment programme but said it was ready to guarantee the West that its nuclear programmes were peaceful and solely for civil and not military purposes.
Ahmadinejad said Iran was still waiting to see what specific changes Obama intended to implement before taking a decision on the future of Iran-US ties.
"They (US) have to clarify what the changes specifically are by saying that was our policy in the past and this is going to be our new policy (in the future)," the president said.
"Not only us, but many other countries are eagerly waiting to see how these changes would be implemented in practice and if so, then we would also contribute our share within the new frameworks in line with our national interests," Ahmadinejad added.
Ahmadinejad said last week that Iran would be ready for talks with Obama's new administration and even join the global fight against terrorism under the condition that the talks be held in an atmosphere of respect, equality and justice.