President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the debate over the country’s nuclear program has come to an end, an he is ready to discuss a number of international issues. with President Obama.
Although Iranian president has been all but silent since his controversial re-election, he held his first formal press conference on Monday. He said he didn’t recognize deadlines for talks on Iran’s nuclear plans and isn’t willing to negotiate on its “undeniable” rights.
“We are ready to discuss world issues with the U.S. president in the presence of mass media,” Ahmadinejad said.
The U.S. and its main allies suspect Iran of using its nuclear program to develop atomic weapons. Iran says the technology is destined for peaceful uses only. Israel said last month it wanted “substantive and prompt steps to halt Iran’s military nuclear program.”
Ahmadinejad and an Iranian delegation will attend the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly session in New York, he said. “We protest the current situation,” he added after criticizing the way the UN is run. Iran is under UN sanctions because of its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
The U.S., China, Russia, France and the U.K, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Germany, met Sept. 2 to discuss an offer for direct talks with Iran on its atomic work. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said July 27 that the U.S. will seek support for “a much tougher position” should Iran fail to revive nuclear talks in coming weeks.
Of his June 12 election victory, Ahmadinejad said, “this election has been the most legitimate in the past 100 years in Iran.” He cited the large turnout of voters and added that no evidence for fraud was found.
His main challengers said the vote was rigged, leading to mass protests in Tehran and other major cities. Thousands of demonstrators and opposition figures were arrested. More than 140 were put on trial on charges of fueling unrest and undermining the regime as part of a “soft” coup to overthrow Islamic rule. The opposition said at least 72 people died in the unrest or in custody, while officials said 30 died.