Published — Monday 11 February 2013
Last update 11 February 2013 6:06 am
TEHRAN: Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday that he is ready to have talks with US if the West stops pressuring his country, the latest in a series of hints from leaders in both Washington and Tehran about the prospect of direct bilateral negotiations over the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program.
“You pull away the gun from the face of the Iranian nation, and I myself will enter the talks with you,” Ahmadinejad said at a ceremony marking the 34th anniversary of the 1979 revolution that toppled a Western-backed monarch and ushered in the Islamic Republic.
He said the West had recently taken a “better” tone toward Iran — a nod to statements made by Vice President Joe Biden last week, in which he said the United States was prepared talk directly to Iran. But the Iranian president said this was not enough. “The Iranian nation will not give up one iota of its rights,” Ahmadinejad said. “Your efforts had aimed at preventing us from become nuclear, but we did.”
However Ahmadinejad admitted that sanctions have taken a bite. “Today, because of dishonorable pressure by enemies, people are under pressure. The government is concerned about the uneasy situation of a big portion of the country.”
Ahmadinejad also said Iran will soon send a satellite into geostationary orbit.
“God willing, soon Iran’s satellite will be located at an orbit at (an altitude of) 36,000 km next to others from four or five advanced powers and it will relay a message of peace and fidelity to all world,” said Ahmadinejad.
Iran regularly announces technological breakthroughs, most of which are impossible to verify independently. Iran says it has launched small satellites to low orbits of up to 450 km.
Iran displayed a model of the Pishgam rocket, which the country says it used to send the monkey into space, in a corner of Tehran’s Azadi Square where demonstrators gathered to listen to the president.
The West fears that technology Iran’s space program can be used to develop long-range missiles.
State TV meanwhile broadcast rallies throughout the country to mark the anniversary. Many demonstrators chanted “Down with the US” and “Death to Israel,” slogans traditionally used to denounce the Islamic Republic’s arch enemies.