Iran Delays Nuclear Talks, Threatens Retaliation Over Potential Searches

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Iran is ready to retaliate if its vessels are searched and will postpone nuclear talks with major powers until the end of August in response to new international sanctions, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday.

Iran is ready to retaliate if its vessels are searched and will postpone nuclear talks with major powers until the end of August in response to new international sanctions, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday.

"This is a punishment for them so that they will learn the protocol of talking to other nations," Ahmadinejad said during a press conference, responding to a fourth set of Security Council sanctions against the Islamic Republic, which calls for searches of suspect Iranian vessels.
"Anybody who insists on implementing this will regret this very harshly," he said of such searches. "We reserve our right for retaliation and defending ourselves."

A Revolutionary Guards commander on Saturday threatened that Iran might respond to such searches in the Hormuz Strait, a narrow waterway accessing the Persian Gulf, the world's biggest oil hub.

On Thursday, Congress approved more harsh unilateral U.S. sanctions punishing foreign firms that provide the Islamic Republic with gasoline. Due to domestic shortages, Iran is currently needs to import 5.8 million gallons of gasoline daily.

Ahmadinejad said that Iran "laughed" at such measures. "They think Iran is some island in the ocean," he said, stressing that the country has dealt with sanctions since the 1979 revolution.

Ahmadinejad said his country could increase its needed production in a week's time and is able to halve its domestic gasoline consumption within a day.

On the currently dormant talks over Iran's nuclear program, Ahmadinejad said Iran would be willing to return to broad talks at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, which ends around Aug. 22.

He did stress that Iran was still willing to discuss a deal on a swap of nuclear fuel it needs for a research reactor that produces medical isotopes. Turkey and Brazil in May restarted talks on this issue, but the deal they struck with Tehran was turned down by the U.S., which said it was an attempt to block sanctions.

Ahmadinejad said Iran has conditions for world powers to return to broader talks, demanding that the United States and other nations state their positions on Israel's alleged possession of nuclear weapons, vow to uphold the Non-Proliferation Treaty and state whether they are friends or foes of Iran. He also hinted that some members of Iran's negotiating team will be changed. "They should also know that it will not be talks between those powers and Iran any longer; other groups will be attending the talks, too," Ahmadinejad said.

Source : washingtonpost