May 4, 2010 / 8:48 PM / in 9 years

Ahmadinejad says Iran can withstand sanctions

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday his country could withstand sanctions and the pressure of the United States and its allies over Tehran’s nuclear program.

“Sanctions cannot stop the Iranian nation. The Iranian nation is able to withstand the pressure of the United States and its allies,” Ahmadinejad told a news conference.

“While we do not welcome sanctions, we do not fear them either,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

But if new sanctions are passed it “will mean relations between Iran and the U.S. will never be improved again,” Ahmadinejad said.

Major powers are negotiating a fourth set of U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. They expect the resolution to go through within the next few weeks.

The West accuses Tehran of aiming to develop atomic weapons, but Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful power generation.

Ahmadinejad, in New York for a conference at the United Nations on the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, also said Iran would not withdraw from the treaty, as North Korea has done.

“My presence here means that we want the NPT to be revised, to become a fair system,” he said.

Ahmadinejad repeated the strong condemnation of nuclear weapons he made in a speech on Monday. “We do not need the atomic bomb and never have we threatened another country,” he said. “We are able to defend ourselves and our borders.”

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Writing by Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Chris Wilson

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