Siddharth Varadarajan and John Cherian
``They really are not looking for a dialogue''
I still believe in dialogue, says Ahmadinejad``U.S. and its European allies will regret their miscalculation''``All Iranian nuclear activities are firmly inside IAEA, NPT boundaries''
Siddharth Varadarajan and
Tehran: Providing the clearest indication yet of Iran's intention to resist mounting Western pressure on its civilian nuclear programme, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has said that any attempt to take away the rights his country had under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty could force it to reconsider its adherence to the NPT.
In an exclusive interview to The Hindu at the Pasteur complex here on Tuesday, Mr. Ahmadinejad said that he still believed in dialogue, despite last week's United Nations Security Council resolution threatening sanctions against Tehran. Iran was ``in the very middle of studying'' the European package of incentives and was trying its best to come up with an answer by August 22, the date it had always said it would respond by. ``We said we would reply on the 22nd of August and they issued a resolution nevertheless!" he said. ``I am at a loss to explain this... The only conclusion I can draw is that they are bullying us... They really are not looking for a dialogue.''
Declaring that Iran was not concerned at this pressure, he said the United States and its European allies had ``miscalculated'' and would ``regret the miscalculation they have made today.''
Dressed casually in a zippered jacket but surrounded by a retinue of aides, mostly wearing suits, Mr. Ahmadinejad fielded questions for 45 minutes. He spoke softly and precisely through an interpreter, but demonstrated his own understanding of the English language by correcting the translation on a couple of occasions.
Asked whether there were any circumstances under which Iran may decide to leave the NPT, Mr. Ahmadinejad said that all Iranian nuclear activities were peaceful and were today ``firmly inside [the] boundaries'' of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and NPT. ``Nevertheless, if they decide to use the instruments at their disposal to put pressure on us to limit our activities, and try to take away or deny what is rightfully ours, and to distort our rights, obviously we are going to change our mind.''
The reference to ``instruments at their disposal'' is the power of the UNSC to impose sanctions, something the U.S. is threatening to do if Iran does not suspend all nuclear enrichment by August 31.
Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran had managed to access nuclear technology indigenously. ``This is the end result of our scientific endeavours and nobody can take this away from us,'' he said, tapping his head. At the same time, Tehran was ``still interested in talking if there are parties out there which might have questions.'' He said there was a strong likelihood of Iran presenting its own package of proposals to the Europeans later this month. Even though he assumed that ``the whole idea of presenting us with a package was a political exercise more than anything else,'' the Iranian President said he was interested in continuing with negotiations.