Iran's supreme leader says his country will hold talks with the United States only if the U.S. lifts its "sanctions and threats" against Iran.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told top Iranian officials in a speech
Wednesday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and others are right in saying Iran
is ready to negotiate on its nuclear program. But he said no discussions will be
held with the United States.
The U.S., the United Nations Security Council and the European Union have issued tough new sanctions related to Iran's refusal to stop enriching uranium.
The top U.S. military officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, earlier this month said the United States has a plan to attack Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons. He said he hopes the U.S. does not have to use that option. Mullen said the risk of Iran developing a nuclear weapon is unacceptable.
Also Wednesday, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency urged the organization to come to Iran's defense against sanctions from the U.N. Security Council. Iranian news agency ISNA quotes Ali Asghar Soltanieh as saying the IAEA should know that Iran has been cooperating to show its goodwill and transparency.
Iran is under four sets of Security Council resolutions for its nuclear program, which many in the international community suspect is aimed at creating a nuclear weapon. Iran denies the charge.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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