‘Iran not building nuclear weapons’
WASHINGTON: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a United States TV channel in an interview released Monday that Tehran was not working to build nuclear weapons.
"We are not working to manufacture a bomb. We don't believe in a nuclear bomb," Ahmadinejad told NBC when asked if Iran sought to be a nuclear power. New approach: He said that if the US adopted a genuinely new approach to his country, Tehran would respond in a positive way. "Today, we see new behaviour shown by the US and the officials of the US. My question is, is such behaviour rooted in a new approach?" the president told NBC in a rare interview with a US broadcaster. "In other words, mutual respect, co-operation and justice? Or is this approach a continuation in the confrontation with the Iranian people, but in a new guise?" he said from Tehran, speaking through an interpreter.
If US behaviour represented a genuine change, "we will be facing a new situation and the response by the Iranian people will be a positive one." The interview came after the US took the unprecedented step of sending a top diplomat to meet Iran's chief negotiator at talks in Geneva over Tehran's disputed nuclear program. It also follows Ahmadinejad's announcement on Saturday that Iran had boosted the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges to up to 6,000, in an expansion of its nuclear drive that defies international calls for a freeze. Iran is already under three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which makes nuclear fuel as well as the fissile core of an atomic bomb.
World powers, seeking to resolve the standoff and concerned Tehran is pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons project, have offered to start pre-negotiations during which Tehran would add no more uranium-enriching centrifuges and in return face no further sanctions. Iran was given a two-week deadline to give a final answer to world powers seeking a breakthrough in the crisis after talks a week ago in Geneva with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana ended in stalemate. Ahmadinejad said he hoped the negotiations would yield progress.
"They submitted a package and we responded by submitting our own package. They again submitted a work plan and we submitted our own work plan," he said in the interview. agencies