Fri, Sep 04, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Ahmadinejad scoffs at sanctions

STRONG SUPPORT: Iran’s parliament approved most of Ahmadinejad’s choices for Cabinet posts, turning down only three choices, including two women

AFP AND AP , TEHRAN

Iranian lawmakers attend a parliamentary debate on the proposed Cabinet of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on Wednesday.

PHOTO: AFP

A defiant Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday Iran was ready for more sanctions and would not bow to pressure in meeting any deadline set by world powers over its nuclear program.

“No one can impose sanctions on Iran anymore. We welcome sanctions. We have given our proposed package,” Ahmadinejad said, referring to a package of proposals that would form the basis of fresh talks with world powers.

The president was speaking to reporters after parliament strongly backed 18 of the 21 members of his proposed new Cabinet.

An aide and Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, said the president would later this month attend the UN General Assembly meeting in New York “to encourage Iranian views in managing the world.”

Iran’s reaction comes as the US and five other world powers — Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany — pressed the Islamic republic on Wednesday to accept an offer of face-to-face nuclear talks at a key UN meeting late this month.

Senior diplomats from the six world powers, known as P5+1, and the EU, met in Frankfurt, Germany, on Wednesday and urged Iran to accept their offer of direct talks.

Earlier, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said Tehran would not bow to “threat and pressure” in meeting any deadline set by world powers.

“We are a nation which believes in dialogue and interaction, but if they [the six world powers] want to set up a deadline using threat and pressure, it is not acceptable,” IRNA news agency yesterday quoted Ghashghavi as saying.

He said Iran’s nuclear activities must be dealt with by the International Atomic Energy Agency and not the UN Security Council.

A day ahead of the gathering in Germany, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, was quoted as saying that Tehran had updated its own package of proposals and was ready for fresh talks with world powers.

But the White House and EU said they had no official notification from Iran on new proposals.

Ghashghavi dismissed the threat of further sanctions if Iran failed to talk with global powers.

“We have said this many times, that sanctions [are] a rusty sword which has no effect. There is no reason for retreat, but we are committed to our international obligations,” he said.

US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said on Wednesday that world powers felt “a negotiated solution is still open to Iran.”

“They expected Iran ... to respond to the offer of talks [issued by the six] in April by agreeing to meet before the UN General Assembly meeting,” Kelly told reporters.

The General Assembly meets in New York the week of Sept. 21.

Meanwhile, parliament approved most of Ahmadinejad’s choices for key Cabinet posts, including endorsing the defense minister nominee, who is wanted by Argentina for a deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center.

The broad mandate from lawmakers was a boost for the embattled president and considered a vote of confidence for his crackdowns on political opponents and tough stance against Western pressure for talks on the nation’s nuclear program.

Lawmakers rejected three nominees: the energy minister and two women proposed for the welfare and social security ministries.

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