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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Iranian leader says nuclear talks likely to resume

    UNITED NATIONS — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday he saw a “”good chance”” that talks will soon resume with the United States and its allies over Iran’s disputed nuclear program because “”there is no other alternative.””

    Ahmadinejad, visiting New York to take part in the U.N. General Assembly meetings, denied that Iran has been hurt by economic sanctions that have been imposed in the past three months to pressure Tehran to negotiate away its nuclear program. He also dismissed talk of a possible attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations as no more than “”psychological warfare.””

    New talks over the program were “”bound to happen”” he told a group of reporters at a breakfast because “”what is left is talks. … There’s no other way.””

    The United States and many other world powers believe Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at developing a bomb. Iran insists its goals are for peaceful purposes such as power generation.

    Ahmadinejad’s comments come at a time when Iran is trying to build support around the world to weaken the impact of the sanctions. The Iranian president has been urging countries not to enforce the sanctions and arguing that it is the United States, rather than Iran, that stands in the way of a solution to the nuclear standoff.

    U.S. officials contend that they are willing to negotiate, but that Iranian officials have not agreed to offers from the West to resume the conversations.

    “”Iran has been talking about talks, but needs to follow up,”” said a senior administration official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    Ray Takeyh, a former U.S. adviser on Iran, said that while Ahmadinejad has floated the idea of new talks, most of the most powerful figures in Iran, starting with the Supreme Leader, are opposed.

    Ahmadinejad has become “”the main advocate for engagement,”” said Takeyh, now with the Council on Foreign Relations. “”That’s what it’s come to.””

    While Ahmadinejad seemed open to renewed contacts in his meeting with journalists he also repeated harsh criticisms of the United States and its allies.

    He blasted the United States for a planned $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, a regional rival of Iran. “”That’s how much the United States wants peace,”” he said.

    While he dismissed talk of war, Ahmadinejad suggested that the United States was not capable of handling one if it came.

    He said the United States “”never entered a real war, not in Vietnam, nor in Afghanistan, nor in World War II.”” He suggested that in World War II other countries had taken the brunt of the fighting.

    “”War is not just bombing someplace. When it comes it has no limits,”” he said.

    He accused the United States of using the U.N.””s watchdog nuclear agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to dominate other countries. He blasted the U.S.-led peacemaking efforts in the Middle East, contending that the Palestinian leaders engaged in peace talks are not the chosen representatives of the Palestinian majority.

    Kaveh Afrasiabi, an Iranian political scientist and one-time adviser to Iranian nuclear negotiators, said Iranian officials are trying to persuade other governments that the sanctions and U.S. arms sales are a threat to regional stability, but that Iran is willing to cooperate with the United States in the interest of stability.

    Afrasiabi, who was traveling with the Iranian delegation, said he believed there have been behind-the-scenes diplomatic conversations and that a resumption of U.S.-Iran talks may be announced soon.

    Ahmadinejad and President Barack Obama are scheduled to address the General Assembly in speeches on Thursday.

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