TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran’s president said on Thursday he would not plead with opponents of Tehran’s nuclear program in order to avoid sanctions as Russia and the United States said new measures might be necessary.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who Wednesday called President Barack Obama a nuclear-armed “cowboy”, said Iran would “try to make an opportunity out of sanctions” rather than change its stance to avoid them.
“We do not welcome the idea of threat or sanctions, but we would never implore those who threaten us with sanctions to reverse their sanctions against us,” he was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.
Ahmadinejad was speaking as Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty in Prague. The two were “working together at the United Nations Security Council to pass strong sanctions on Iran,” Obama said.
Medvedev said he was unhappy with Iran’s stance over its nuclear program which the West believes is aimed at developing atomic weapons.
“Tehran is not reacting to a range of suggested constructive compromise agreements. We can’t close our eyes to this. That is why I do not exclude that Security Council will have to examine this question again,” Medvedev told reporters.
Obama is hoping to persuade Russia and China -- both Security Council veto holders -- to drop their traditional reluctance to the new sanctions.
His campaign is likely to continue next week when both Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao attend a summit on nuclear security in Washington.
While dismissing the sanctions threat, Iran has also warned against any military steps against its nuclear program.
After several warnings that it would hit back at Israel if attacked from there, Iran’s military chief said Thursday he would target U.S. forces stationed in the Middle East if Washington attacked.
“If America presents Iran with a serious threat and undertakes any measure against Iran, none of the American soldiers who are currently in the region would go back to America alive,” Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.
U.S. troops are engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which border Iran.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a military ceremony, Firouzabadi said a strike on Iran would also put oil supplies at risk.
“If America wants to have the region’s oil and its markets then the region’s markets would be taken away from America and the Muslims’ control over oil would increase,” he said, according to state broadcaster IRIB.
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