Published December 10, 2015
TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's president said Wednesday that upcoming talks with six world powers about its disputed nuclear program will fail if those nations continue along what he called a "path of arrogance."
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments, made in an address to a crowd of thousands in northeastern Iran, cast doubt on any possible progress in talks that Tehran has said it is ready to hold with the six powers -- the U.S. Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- sometime after Nov. 10.
The U.S. and some of its allies suspect Iran's civil nuclear energy program is a cover for a secret effort to develop weapons and are pushing Iran to fully open all facilities to international inspection and to give up uranium enrichment, a key element of its nuclear work that could give it a pathway to the bomb.
Iran denies having nuclear weapons ambitions and says it only wants to enrich uranium to the lower levels used in producing fuel for power plants.
The standoff is the central issue of dispute between Iran and the West, and Ahmadinejad often accuses the U.S. in particular of using the confrontation to thwart Iran's technological progress and of wanting to dominate the nations of the Middle East.
"If you want to continue the previous path of arrogance ... these people (the Iranian nation) will pursue you until you end up in hell," Ahmadinejad said in a speech broadcast live on state television.
The crowd, in the city of Bojnord, responded with chants of "death to the U.S."
The U.N. Security Council imposed a fourth round of tough sanctions against Iran in June over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which at higher levels of processing, can be used to make the fissile core of warheads.
At the time, Ahmadinejad dismissed the U.N. sanctions as "annoying flies" and as useless as "used tissues." In response, he said then that Iran would not hold talks with the West for at least two months to "punish" world powers.
Iran's Supreme National Security Council, which handles the country's nuclear negotiations, and the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, are now exchanging letters on the date and place of a new meeting.
Negotiations foundered a year ago over a U.N.-drafted proposal for Iran to ship most of its stockpile of enriched uranium abroad for further processing and to be returned in the form of fuel rods for a Tehran research reactor that makes isotopes used in cancer treatment.
Fuel rods cannot be used to make weapons material. Iran balked at that deal. It accepted a similar proposal from allies Brazil and Turkey, but the other six nations said that offer fell short of their demands.
On Wednesday, Ahmadinejad warned that the new talks will fail if the West seeks to impose tougher conditions than those Tehran rejected last year.
But the Iranian president said a compromise could be reached if Iran is respected.
"The best path for them (world powers) is to respect nations, stop being obstinate, get out of glass palaces and sit down like a polite boy and talk on the basis of justice and respect. If they come like this, they may get results," Ahmadinejad said.
"But if they come with arrogance and deception, the response of the Iranian nation is the same it has already given."