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Ahmadinejad Says No Nuclear Talks If Sanctions Are Passed

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in Istanbul on June 8

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in Istanbul on June 8

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has warned that Iran will cut off any talks about its nuclear program if the United Nations adopts new sanctions against it.

The Iranian leader was speaking in Istanbul, where he was attending a summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

His remarks at a press conference come as a vote to impose tougher sanctions on Tehran at the UN Security Council appears imminent.

"I have said that the U.S. government and its allies are so mistaken that if they think they can brandish the stick of resolution and then sit down to talk with us, such a thing will not happen," Ahmadinejad said. "We will talk to everyone if there is respect and fairness but if someone wants to talk to us rudely and in a domineering manner the response is known already."

Ahmadinejad also urged the international community not to dismiss a nuclear fuel swap deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil in Tehran last month, warning that opportunities would not "be repeated."

"The meeting in Tehran created an opportunity for the U.S. administration and for its allies and we still hope that they will be able to use this opportunity," Ahmadinejad said. "We say that this opportunity will not be repeated."

He said Tehran was still waiting for a response from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the deal.

'Enemies Of The Iranian People'

Western governments have dismissed the swap deal, under which most of Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium -- 1,200 kilograms -- would be sent to Turkey in return for 120 kilograms of nuclear fuel for a medical research reactor. The United States said the deal fails to address concerns that Tehran is trying to build nuclear weapons because Iran would continue to enrich uranium at higher levels.

The West fears Iran wants highly enriched uranium to make an atomic bomb or have that capability, a charge Tehran has denied.

Ahmadinejad today said U.S. President Barack Obama stands to lose unless he changes his policies toward Iran.

He also warned Russia, saying, "There is no big problem, but they must be careful not to be on the side of the enemies of the Iranian people."

Security Council Debate

Ahmadinejad's warnings came as the UN Security Council held new closed-door consultations in New York on a fourth sanctions resolution against Iran.

The final version expands a limited arms embargo and toughens financial restrictions and shipping inspections.

France's UN Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters today that he expects the council to vote on June 9 on the sanctions resolution.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking in London, said he is hopeful the resolution will be passed "very soon."

Gates made his remarks today at a news conference in London with British Defense Secretary Liam Fox.

"I've said on a number of occasions [that] one of the many benefits of the resolution is that it will provide a legal platform for individual nations to then take additional actions that go well beyond the resolution itself," he said.

Western diplomats say they expect the resolution to pass, with the backing of all five veto-holding Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is also attending the Istanbul summit, said the resolution had been "practically agreed" but that sanctions should not kept in check.

"We don't think [UN Security Council] resolutions should be excessive or should put Iran, Iran's leadership, and particularly the Iranian people, in a situation that creates barriers to the development of peaceful nuclear energy," Putin said.

A number of nonpermanent members with no veto powers could abstain or vote against, including Turkey and Brazil, which say fresh sanctions would be counterproductive.

Turkey and Brazil are now pressing for an open "political debate" on the broader Iranian nuclear issue before a vote on new sanctions.

Watchdog Concerned

IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said Iran had failed to cooperate with his agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.

In comments made at a closed IAEA meeting on June 7 and later made available to reporters, Amano singled out Iran as a "special case" because of suspicions it may be trying to make nuclear weapons.

In a restricted report last week, the IAEA said Iran was pressing ahead with producing enriched uranium at higher levels of purification and installing more machinery.

The UN atomic watchdog said Iran had produced at least 5.7 kilos of higher-enriched uranium, adding that it remained concerned about the true nature of the nuclear activities.

written by Antoine Blua based on agency reports and contributions from RFE/RL Radio Farda correspondent Hamid Fatemi