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Ahmadinejad sets conditions for renewed talks with \'arrogant\' US

Islamic Republic becoming more isolated as sanctions bite

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Ahmadinejad sets conditions for renewed talks with \'arrogant\' US

Fresh off his provocative visit to Lebanon last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a speech to a massive crowd in the northwestern Iranian city of Ardebil on Sunday in which he laid down four conditions for restarting talks with the "arrogant" US and other leading world powers overTehran ’s renegade nuclear program.

His conditions are that the nuclear powers should make it clear if they are committed to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations, make it clear what their objectives are in negotiating with Iran, that they will stick to the rules of negotiation even if they feel they are failing in their objectives, and finally that they make clear statements regarding their attitudes towards Israel’s alleged nuclear weapons arsenal.

He concluded his speech by insisting that any country who refuses to answer these questions obviously approves of Israel’s nuclear weapons, feels at liberty to dispense with logic and IAEA regulations, and is only trying to harm Iran through negotiations. He also reaffirmed his stance that Iran will never give up its “nuclear rights” and that any talks with the Islamic Republic must be based on “justice and respect.”

"A day will come when the US, its arrogance at its weakest point, will come to Iran and while apologizing, will plead with Tehran that relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran be restored," he concluded.

"Iran says it is ready to talk," responded US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley. "Now it needs to commit to a date. Iran knows the phone number. We are awaiting Iran's formal response."

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the US has asked the Beijing government to crack down on Chinese companies that provide assistance and expertise to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear and missile programs. The Obama administration believes several Chinese companies are already in violation of UN sanctions on Tehran, and recently gave a list of violating banking, engineering and construction firms to the government in Beijing.

Elsewhere, during a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on Ahmadinejad’s visit  to Lebanon last week. “Unfortunately we see that Lebanon is quickly turning into an additional Iranian satellite,” he said. “That is a tragedy for Lebanon, but we in Israel will know how to defend ourselves and build our country.”

Also on Sunday, The Washington Post reported that Iran Air, the national carrier of the Islamic Republic, has been struggling under sanctions that have made it nearly impossible for its aircraft to refuel at most airports in Europe and much of Asia. Several of Europe’s largest energy companies have already begun to shut down their operations in Iran and the Japanese giant Inpex Corp. announced last week that it was withdrawing from plans to develop the Azadegan oil project. Domestic consumption of gasoline and other petroleum products in Iran is reported to be a fraction of what it was before the latest round of UN sanctions was initiated in June.

In related news, former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi told CNN's Fareed Zakaria during an interview on Sunday that the region was "falling victim" to extremist groups financed by Tehran.

"We know that unfortunately Iran is trying to wreak havoc on the region, and trying to destabilize the region by destabilizing Iraq, and destabilizing Lebanon and destabilizing the Palestinian issue," Allawi said. "And this is where unfortunately Iraq and the rest of the greater Mideast is falling victim to these terrorists who are definitely Iran-financed and supported by various governments in the region. I don't believe that there are leaders in the region who are trying to fuel extremism and bring about sectarianism; unfortunately, only Iran."


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