Iran ready for talks on nuclear fuel swap scheme, threatens U.S., Israel
07:03 05/05/2010 NEW YORK, May 5 (RIA Novosti) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a new series of emphatic statements during a Tuesday's news conference in New York, where a review conference of nuclear non-proliferation bringing together diplomats from 189 countries is underway.
The Iranian leader, whose philippic delivered at the conference on Monday made the U.S., French and British diplomats walk out of the UN General Assembly Hall, appeared to be less hard-line on Tuesday concerning Iran's controversial nuclear program. Ahmadinejad said Iran was ready to resume six-party talks on the IAEA nuclear fuel swap plan and stated that the Islamic Republic was not going to withdraw from Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
At the same time, Ahmadinejad threatened that new sanctions against the Islamic republic, if imposed, would close the way for reconciliation between Tehran and Washington and pledged to protect Arab nations if Israel attacked them.
He also called for the creation of an independent international body to control the number of nuclear warheads produced by nuclear powers, putting under question the accuracy of figures announced by the U.S. earlier at the conference.
URANIUM SWAP PLAN
Ahmadinejad has said Iran is ready to resume talks with six international mediators on the IAEA plan, stipulating the exchange of Iran's low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel.
The statement came following a call by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for Iran to resume negotiations with Russia, the U.S., Germany, Britain, France and China, over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.
"We are ready to exchange our 3.5%-enriched uranium for 20%-enriched fuel. We are ready for talks, during which we may agree the terms," Ahmadinejad said, adding "we are ready to pay for this [the exchange of low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel] as much as necessary."
In line with a plan proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Islamic Republic is to ship out its low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment and subsequently send it to France where it would be made into fuel rods.
Tehran has stalled the plan, suggesting it could consider a simultaneous swap of its low-enriched uranium for 20%-enriched uranium, but that the exchange should be simultaneous and would have to take place on its own territory.
Ahmadinejad's statement comes as the six international mediators have begun discussing the text of the resolution to impose harsher sanctions on Iran over its continuing nuclear activities.
Western powers accuse Iran of attempting to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of peaceful nuclear generation.
The Iranian leader said Iran was able to produce its own 20%-enriched uranium. However, he said, Tehran is ready to halt this activities if acceptable terms of the exchange of low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel are agreed.
IAEA, NPT MEMBERSHIP
Ahmadinejad has said Iran is not going to withdraw from the IAEA and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
"My presence here (at the conference) shows that although we want to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but we will remain an active member of the NPT and the IAEA," he said.
Last September, an Iranian lawmaker claimed that the Islamic Republic would withdraw from the NPT if six-party talks yielded no results.
Late last year, Ahmadinejad announced Tehran's plans to build ten new nuclear enrichment facilities in the country and said that Iran had no plans to report to the IAEA on its nuclear projects.
Commenting on Ahmadinejad's statement, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that the Islamic Republic was not going to freeze its cooperation with the IAEA and that "all our nuclear activities will be under IAEA supervision."
INDEPENDENT NUCLEAR WATCHDOG
The Iranian leader has called for the creation of an independent international body to control the number of warheads produced by nuclear powers.
On Monday, the U.S. revealed for the first time that the country had a total of 5,113 nuclear warheads in its stockpile, a move intended to bolster arms control efforts.
Ahmadinejad has put the announced figure under question, saying there was no independent proof that it was correct.
RECONCILIATION WITH U.S.
Ahmadinejad has threatened that new sanctions against the Islamic Republic, if imposed, will close the way for reconciliation between Tehran and Washington.
"If sanctions are imposed, relations between Iran and the U.S. will never improve," the Iranian leader said.
Iran's relations with the U.S., which have been stalled for more than 30 years, since the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by Iranian radical students in 1979, have become even worse during former George Bush's presidency.
Ahmadinejad said there are some "radicals" in the U.S. administration, who "push [U.S. President] Barack Obama towards the worsening of relations with Iran."
The U.S. has led the calls for the United Nations to impose harsher sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.
Tehran has rejected the allegations, saying it needs enriched uranium for nuclear reactors producing medical isotopes.
Speaking earlier at the New York conference, Ahmadinejad accused Western powers, particularly the U.S., of double standards concerning nuclear non-proliferation.
He said the United States has not only used nuclear weapons, but it also continues to threaten to use such weapons against other countries, including Iran.
Following Ahmadinejad's statement, the delegations of the U.S., Britain and France walked out of the UN General Assembly Hall.
Addressing the delegates to the conference on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Iran for "flouting the rules," and putting the non-proliferation regime at risk.
END OF ISRAEL
The Iranian leader has threatened that if Israel triggers a war in the Middle East by attacking Iran or any other regional country, this would mean the end of the aggressor.
"The unleashing of a new war [by Israel] ... will lead to its end. Israel's chances to win - either in Lebanon or Syria, or even in Gaza - are nil. This would be the last war, and this would be the end [of Israel]," Ahmadinejad said.
He said Iran would help the regional countries to repel possible Israeli aggression.
"We will fully protect them," he said.
Israel, as well as the U.S., has not ruled out a military action against the Islamic Republic in case if fails to meet international demands and halt its uranium enrichment program.
Ahmadinejad said that Iran was not afraid of a possible military attack by any state.
"If any country would attack us - which I think it is quite unlikely... then our country will not just sit and observe, or applaud - it will throw a stone in response," the Iranian leader said, adding after a short pause: "Or an equivalent of a stone."
Iran held large-scale military drills in the in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz in late April, firing indigenous missiles and other weapons both from land and water.
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