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Ahmadinejad hails West’s ‘retreat’ on nuclear issue

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the West has retreated in its nuclear dispute with Tehran, as it is no longer talking of suspension of Iran’s uranium enrichment activities.

“We have now entered a stage of cooperation. At the moment, one of the key issues is Iran’s participation in projects such as the international [nuclear] fuel bank or reactor and plant construction,” Ahmadinejad said in a Wednesday night televised interview.

“There is no more talk of suspension. We have reached a stage where we are cooperating, on a high level, with other countries that have the technology through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” he added.

The progress made on talks on the nuclear issue has upset Israel and several European states, as they wanted the so called ‘nuclear challenge’ to continue so that they could use it to spread propaganda against Iran, Ahmadinejad said.

“Israelis and a number of Western countries are angry about this. They are trying to prevent us from forming cooperation. They want the talks to break down and end in dispute.”

Ahmadinejad’s comments came after an Israeli military official repeated the regime’s past threats against Tehran, saying Tel Aviv was readying all options to try to force Iran to halt its nuclear program.

Gabi Ashkenazi, the chief of staff of Israel’s armed forces, said that he expected world leaders to decide by the end of 2009 which course of action to take with regard to Iran.

“We are readying all the options and decision-makers will have to consider which paths to take” to stop Iran’s nuclear development, Ashkenazi told the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

“If the Iranians understand that they will have to pay a steep price, it wouldn’t be illogical or unreasonable to say they may change their current direction,” he added.

Israel continues to insist that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, while lacking any evidence to prove its claim. The IAEA reports issued so far and even reports released by the United States’ main intelligence agencies all point to the contrary.

Tel Aviv refuses to relinquish the war rhetoric against Iran, although it remains one of the only three regimes that have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Iran, an NPT-signatory, has called for the removal of all weapons of mass destruction from across the globe.

Israel is believed to be the sole possessor of nuclear arms in the Middle East with over 200 ready-to-launch warheads in its stockpile.

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