In response to the Russian “step by step” plan to revive nuclear talks with Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran has already taken its step by answering IAEA questions.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov proposed a plan that would see Iran answer the IAEA’s questions, starting with easier ones that can be quickly answered and moving to more complicated questions that require more time for response. The Russian plan also suggests rewarding Iran for genuine responses at each step by removing international sanctions.
The plan was presented to Lavrov’s U.S. counterpart Hilary Clinton last Wednesday.
Yesterday, speaking at a ceremony in Kerman, Ahmadinejad reminded the West that Iran has already cooperated with the IAEA and, therefore, it is time for the West to take a step.
The West is concerned that Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities may be a front for the development of nuclear weapons. It wants Iran to cease activities in some areas, especially uranium enrichment.
Ahmadinejad reiterated Iran’s stance about the peacefulness of its nuclear activities, saying: “We have said we do not want bombs, we have also said that if we wanted to develop a bomb, we would not fear announcing it to the world.”
Ahmadinejad also rejected claims that Iran is a threat to regional countries and said: “What they say about Iran wanting to hit Russia or Europe with its rockets is a lie; we do not need to do such a thing and are on friendly terms with Russia and others.”
A number of Western sources warn that U.S. military bases in the region are within range of Iranian rockets and could be targets.
The reports also indicate that if Iran develops nuclear weapons, the rockets could be equipped with nuclear warheads.
Ahmadinejad said: “Some have said that Iran might want to attack Arab countries, but history shows that Iran has never invaded another country….these claims are clearly lies.”
The Iranian president went on to laud Iran’s industrial and technological advances and criticized Western sanctions aimed at stopping Iran’s nuclear program.
“The West has imposed sanctions on us and has stopped selling airplane and factory parts to us, but what do these parts have to with the atom bomb?” Ahmadinejad asked.
Iran has repeatedly announced it is committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and that all its nuclear activities are directed toward energy production.
Nuclear talks between Iran and the G5+1 have reached an impasse since they met last January in Istanbul. While Iran insists that it has answered all IAEA questions, the West maintains that Iran has not been fully forthcoming about its program.