Iran Remains Defiant in Face of Sanctions Threat

Iran doesn't seem fazed by the West's looming threat of sanctions. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday that his country wouldn't retreat "one iota" from its nuclear enrichment program, Reuters reported based on a statement posted on the presidential Web site.

Ahmadinejad's statement, which echoed prior statements on the impasse, was issued following a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad, Iran's closest allies in the Arab world.

"In whichever negotiation we take part ... it is unequivocally with the view to the realization of Iran's nuclear right, and the Iranian nation would not retreat one iota from its rights," Ahmadinejad's statement said.

Reuters reports the statement also said that Assad cited international agreements in affirming Iran's right to engage in uranium enrichment and possess nuclear power stations.

After Iran neglected to give a clear response to an offer made by world powers in Geneva on July 19, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the country could expect more sanctions to be imposed by the United States and the European Union as early as late August or September and may then be hit with a fourth sanctions resolution at the U.N. Security Council.

"We will see what Iran does in two weeks, but I think the diplomatic process now has a new kind of energy to it," she said. "If they do not decide to suspend then we will be in a situation where we have to return to the Security Council."

That two week deadline is up, and the AFP quoted White House press secretary Dana Perino as saying, "Negative consequences await if they don't have a positive response to our very generous incentives package, and that would possibly come in the form of sanctions."

Though some of the United States' European Union partners in the push to end Iran's nuclear activities may not insist on such a strict deadline, Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged the country to stop playing for time and deliver a "clear answer."

"I appeal again to the Iranian side no longer to play for time, but to give us a usable answer to our offers — stop dallying," Steinmeier was quoted as saying in an interview with the weekly Der Spiegel.

Iran denies the charge and says uranium enrichment is only for electricity production.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.