TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday compared the power of Iran's enemies to a "mosquito," saying Iran now deals with the West over its nuclear activities from a position of power.
The comment from Ahmadinejad came as Iran is negotiating with the West over a U.N.-backed proposal to ship its uranium abroad for further enrichment.
The UN-brokered plan would require Iran to send 1.2 tons of low-enriched uranium — around 70 percent of its stockpile — to Russia in one batch by year's end, for processing to create more refined fuel for a Tehran research reactor.
Iran has indicated that it may agree to send only "part" of its stockpile in several shipments. Should the talks fail to help Iran obtain the fuel from abroad, Iran has threatened to enrich uranium to the higher level needed to power the research reactor itself domestically.
After further enrichment in Russia, France would convert the uranium into fuel rods that would be returned to Iran for use in the reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes.
"While enemies have used all their capacities ... the Iranian nation is standing powerfully and they are like a mosquito," a government Web site quoted Ahmadinejad early Sunday as saying.
Ahmadinejad also said Iran doesn't trust the West when it sits for talks.
"Given the negative record of Western powers, the Iranian government ... looks at the talks with no trust. But realities dictate to them to interact with the Iranian nation," he said according to the site.
The U.S. and its allies have been pushing for the U.N.-backed agreement as a way to reduce Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium to prevent the possibility that Iran may turn them into weapons-grade uranium, materials needed for the core of a nuclear bomb.
Iranian opposition to the U.N. plan could be driven by concerns that the proposal would weaken Iran's control over its stockpiles of nuclear fuel and could be perceived as a concession to the West.
The Tehran reactor needs uranium enriched to about 20 percent, higher than the 3.5 percent-enriched uranium that Iran is producing for a nuclear power plant it plans to build in southwestern Iran. Enriching uranium to even higher levels can produce weapons-grade materials.
Iranian officials have said it is more economical to purchase the more highly enriched uranium needed for the Tehran reactor than to produce it domestically.