Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declares his country's right to run a nuclear program. Iranian President says he is not going to negotiate this right with world powers.
At a news conference on Monday, Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran will discuss ways to cooperate on the "peaceful use" of nuclear energy. As for the nuclear program, the issue is concluded, he said.
A group of six world powers made up of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain) plus Germany has been seeking a dialogue with Iran over its controversial nuclear program.
The group has offered Iran incentives to halt nuclear enrichment activities, and has been considering sanctions on Iran if it does not cooperate, Voice of America reports.
CNN International quoted Ahmadinejad as saying, "Although the Iranian nation will turn threats into unique opportunities, continuation of the current approaches will not be beneficial." He said, "We are ready to hold talks and exchange views in a correct direction to solve global challenges," he said.
"Iran will never negotiate on obvious rights of our people," he said.
Iran has said its nuclear program is intended toward producing electricity and not weapons.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the United States will try to engage diplomatically with Iran but said it was "not an open-ended offer."
He hoped Iran would answer questions about its nuclear program by September in time for a U.N. General Assembly meeting, CNN reports.
It was also reported, Iran has repeatedly vowed it will never suspend enrichment work, saying it has every right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel. The enrichment process can produce either fuel for a reactor or the material for a warhead.
"It is very clear that this (deadline) is incompatible with the Iranian nation's needs and direction today," Ahmadinejad told a press conference Monday. "Resolving global issues requires constructive interaction on the basis of justice and respect."
Ahmadinejad said Iran will continue to cooperate with the IAEA over regulations on safeguards on its nuclear sites, "but we will resist if the agency is influenced by political pressures."
The agency's chief Mohamed ElBaradei, however, said Monday that the situation over Iran's nuclear program has reached a "stalemate."
He said Iran has not suspended uranium enrichment and not cleared up other lingering questions about possible military dimensions of its atomic activities, and he urged Tehran to "substantively re-engage" with the IAEA.
Iran says allegations of nuclear weapons studies by Tehran is based on forged documents but the U.S. and its European allies want to draw Iran back into negotiations over such concerns.
Germany and France — both important trade partners with Iran — have recently become far more forceful in their threats of possible sanctions.
Ahmadinejad did not directly address Obama's calls for a U.S.-Iran dialogue, and instead renewed an offer he has made in the past to hold a public debate with the U.S. president, The Associated Press reports.