Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has fired a fresh salvo at the West by postponing talks on his country's disputed nuclear program until August in retaliation for recent sanctions packages.
The Iranian leader told reporters that the talks would not take place until after the middle of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan -- around August 20 -- as a way of "disciplining" the West for imposing a fourth round of UN sanctions earlier this month.
"[The West] issued a resolution against us to supposedly have the upper hand in the negotiations. We call it immorality," he said. "Because of this, we delay the negotiations. The talks will be in the second half of Ramadan. It's a punishment to teach them a lesson to know how to have a dialogue with nations."
He also demanded that other countries, including Turkey and Brazil, be allowed to join the long-running negotiations between the P5+1 -- permanent UN Security Council members Britain, France, United States, Russia, and China, plus Germany -- and Tehran over the Islamic regime's uranium-enrichment activities.
The West fears Iran's nuclear program is intended to develop a nuclear bomb-making capacity, while Iran insists it is merely for generating electricity.
Ahmadinejad told a press conference that he would ask all countries wishing to participate if they supported Israel's presumed possession of nuclear weapons, backed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and whether they desired friendship or enmity with Iran.
He said the answers would determine how Iran dealt with individual negotiating countries but would not be a condition for allowing them to take part, adding, "Those who want to be our friends we will talk to in one way and those who want to enter enmity will talk to another way."
Since the UN passed its sanctions package on June 9, further penalties against Iran have been imposed by the European Union and United States.
Ahmadinejad also vowed unspecified retaliation if any country tried to inspect ships in international waters suspected of breaching the sanctions.
"We don't want things to get to that stage," he said. "But if some people insist, I am sure they will regret the policy. We are fully prepared. If they make the slightest mistake, we will definitely retaliate."
written by Robert Tait