AhmadinejadIn an interview aired on Iranian state television yesterdayIranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran expects the United States to launch a military strike on “at least two countries” in the Middle East in the next three months.
Ahmadinejad did not specify whether he thought Iran itself would be attacked nor did he say what intelligence led him to expect such a move.
The United States and Israel have refused to rule out military action against Iran’s nuclear program. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has called the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran “the ultimate terrorist threat.”
Netanyahu’s deputy, Moshe Yaalon, has said Israel had improved military capability which could be used against foes in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria or Iran.
Ahmadinejad said Iran had “very precise information that the Americans have hatched a plot, according to which they to wage a psychological war against Iran”.
He also criticized the U.S.-led drive for international sanctions to pressure Tehran to abandon its nuclear program, which the West fears is geared toward the manufacture of a nuclear bomb, but Iran insists has only peaceful aims.
Ahmadinejad went on to say in the interview that Iran will only resume nuclear negotiations on certain conditions, reiterating a demand his envoy to the United Nations had indicated no longer applied.
Talks could only resume if further countries are involved, if parties say whether they seek friendship or hostility with Iran and if they express their view on Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal, Ahmadinejad said, according to a voiceover on the English-language television channel.
Ahmadinejad’s reiteration of his conditions came after the European Union agreed a new round of sanctions, including a block on oil and gas investment, following a similar move by Washington and a fourth round of UN sanctions.
Talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (P5+1), aimed at addressing concerns about Tehran’s nuclear enrichment, stalled last October, leading to a toughening of international sanctions.
“The logic that they can persuade us to negotiate through sanctions is just a failure,” Ahmadinejad said in the interview.
But Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, handed a letter to the IAEA on Monday, detailing Iran’s position on a nuclear fuel swap which had been agreed in principle in the P5+1 talks.
He said it showed “Iran’s complete readiness to hold negotiations over the fuel for the Tehran reactor without any conditions”.
Russia, which backed the new U.N. sanctions, criticized the additional U.S. and EU measures, saying they undermined efforts to seek a negotiated way out of the nuclear impasse.
Iran, the world’s fifth-largest oil producer, says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, but that has not assuaged fears in many countries that its uranium enrichment activities could be aimed at making a bomb.
Western diplomats say the fuel swap proposal – under which Iran would send some of its low-enriched uranium abroad in exchange for higher enriched fuel for a medical reactor in Tehran – is no longer sufficient because Iran has significantly increased its uranium stockpile since October.
Israel on Monday praised the EU decision to impose further sanctions, saying it “sends a clear signal to Iran that it must abide by international demands.”
“The make clear to [Iran ] the price of its current behavior and that the international community will not tolerate Iran’s continual rejection of international norms,” said spokesman Yigal Palmor. “We hope these steps will be joined by similar sanctions from other nations.”