TEHRAN (Reuters) - U.N. resolutions aimed at increasing sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program “are not worth a penny” and Tehran will give no ground to pressure, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday.
He was addressing six world powers that are discussing imposing more far-reaching sanctions on the major oil producer.
Iran says its nuclear energy program is a peaceful bid to generate electricity, whereas Western powers see it as a camouflaged effort to develop the means to make atom bombs.
The Islamic Republic has repeatedly rejected international demands to halt its escalating uranium enrichment program.
“You should know that your resolutions are not worth a penny,” Ahmadinejad said in a message to the big powers.
“If you think that by making fuss and propaganda you can force us to withdraw, you are wrong. The Iranian nation will not withdraw even one inch from its stance,” he said in a speech to a crowd in southwestern Iran.
Ahmadinejad’s remarks came as the six powers -- the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany -- continued to work on a new draft sanctions resolution, meeting in New York and talking by telephone.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke on the phone for an hour on Tuesday evening with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo, discussing both North Korea and Iran, the State Department said on Wednesday.
“They talked about the status of discussions on Iran sanctions,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told a briefing.
“They acknowledged that good progress has been made (and) talked about a couple of technical issues in the drafting of ... the draft resolution and pledged that both sides would continue to work hard within the P5-plus-1 to resolve remaining questions,” Crowley said. P5-plus-1 refers to Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany.
Ahmadinejad and other Iranian official regularly dismiss the impact of U.N. and U.S. sanctions on the Islamic state. But analysts say they are damaging the economy by increasing trade costs and by deterring badly needed foreign investment.
The United States is pushing for a fourth round of punitive sanctions, including proposed measures targeting Iranian banks and shipping, over its refusal to suspend sensitive enrichment-related activity seen as geared to developing bombs.
Turkey and Brazil, both non-permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, oppose further sanctions and have been trying to revive a stalled nuclear fuel swap deal meant to minimize the risk of Tehran using enrichment for military purposes.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is due to visit Iran on May 16 and Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is also expected to be in the Iranian capital on that day.
The Obama administration has accused Tehran of trying to buy time by accepting Brazil’s offer to mediate and said Washington would be undeterred in its thrust for new sanctions.
Ahmadinejad, declaring the “end of the satanic U.S. dominance,” said foreign forces should leave the Middle East, warning they would otherwise receive a “slap on your face.”
Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the United States faced isolation and major challenges, Fars News Agency reported.
The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the nuclear dispute. Iran says it would retaliate for any attack.
“We think that the Americans are wise enough not to make an unwise act against Islamic republic,” Vahidi said, speaking on the last day of naval war games in the Gulf and Gulf of Oman.
Reporting by Ramin Mostafavi in Tehran and David Alexander in Washington; editing by Mark Heinrich and Mohammad Zargham