Ahmadinejad: Clinton an “enemy of Iran”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Tuesday that any prospects for the normalization of relations between Washington and Tehran will end if the United States succeeds in securing U.N. sanctions against Iran. The Iranian leader also denounced U.S. Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton for shouting "insults" at his country before the U.N. General Assembly, and ...

Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Tuesday that any prospects for the normalization of relations between Washington and Tehran will end if the United States succeeds in securing U.N. sanctions against Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Tuesday that any prospects for the normalization of relations between Washington and Tehran will end if the United States succeeds in securing U.N. sanctions against Iran.

The Iranian leader also denounced U.S. Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton for shouting "insults" at his country before the U.N. General Assembly, and accused the United States of abusing its power in a fruitless effort to punish Iran and deny its legal right to develop a nuclear energy program.

Speaking at a press conference at the Millennium Hotel, Ahmadinejad denied that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons while blaming the United States for introducing the nuclear-arms race into the modern world. "The first resolution passed against Iran in the U.N. Security Council will mean that relations between Iran and the United States will never be improved," Ahmadinejad told reporters. "Paths to that will be shut."

Ahmadinejad spent much of the past 24 hours in New York seeking to counter criticism of Iran’s nuclear activity from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Secretary Clinton, whom he called "an enemy of Iran" on PBS’s Charlie Rose Show.

During an address Monday before the U.N. General Assembly, Ban scolded Iran for failing to comply with U.N. obligations to cease enrichment or uranium and to negotiate in good faith with the United States and other big powers. "The onus is on Iran to clarify the doubts and concerns about its program," Ban said in his speech.

Ahmadinejad said that Ban would never have shown him so little respect if Iran were a world power like the United States. But he said he was prepared to seek a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis. Ahmadinejad said he would hold talks in Tehran later this month with the leaders of Brazil and Turkey, two non-permanent members of the Security Council, on a proposal aimed at ensuring foreign control over Iran’s uranium.

The International Atomic Energy Agency first proposed the plan — known as the fuel swap — in October, but after initially agreeing to accept the deal Iran abruptly refused to proceed with talks. The plan was to ship its low-enriched uranium abroad in exchange for a more purified grade of uranium that can be used to fuel a research reactor that produces medical isotopes. Iran announced last month that it has succeeded in enriching its uranium to the 20 percent purity required for fueling the medical reactor.

"We have said that we are ready to engage in a swap of fuel and we feel that if the other parties show even a minimum level of sincerity we can resolve the impasse and the swap will happen," he said. The Iranian leader said even though Iran no longer needs the more highly enriched uranium, he was prepared to entertain a deal to "show our sincerity."

An agreement on a fuel swap would complicate U.S. efforts to maintain support for sanctions. Russia and China only agreed to pursue sanctions after Iran rebuffed their appeals to accept a similar deal. And U.S. and European officials voiced skepticism over Tehran’s latest offer.

"Iran has a history of making confusing, contradictory, and inaccurate statements designed to convey the impression that it has adopted a flexible attitude toward the proposal," Clinton told reporters Monday. "But we have seen no indication that Iran is willing to accept the IAEA’s October proposal or any variant of that proposal that would achieve the confidence-building goals that were intended."

The Iranian leader said his country has withstood more than 30 years of U.S. sanctions and that it is prepared to endure another round of U.N. sanctions. "While we don’t welcome them, we don’t fear them either," he said.

Colum Lynch was a staff writer at Foreign Policy between 2010 and 2022. Twitter: @columlynch

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