As European countries consider offering Iran security packages as incentives to freeze its nuclear program, Iranian President Ahmadinejad mocked nations angry with the Islamic republic as suffering "mental problems."
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refuses to renounce enrichment
"Those who get upset at the happiness and progress of others are suffering from a mental problem and therefore should find a way to cure themselves," the defiantly hard-line president told a rally, according to the ISNA student news agency.
"We have repeatedly said that we do not have any conflict with others, but will do our best to get our rights," he said in a speech in the central town of Zarandieh.
Ahmadinejad has been using increasingly flowery language in the showdown with the West over Iran's atomic ambitions, insisting Wednesday that he would not accept "candy for gold" in reference to an EU offer to resolve the crisis.
Willing to negotiate
The uranium enrichment complex in the Iranian town of Isfahan
However, he said Thursday that Tehran was ready to negotiate on its nuclear program with all nations, except its arch-foe Israel, widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed power in the region.
"The Iranian nation has repeatedly said it is seeking its right in nuclear technology, and has maintained that it is ready to negotiate with all legitimate nations," he said.
On Wednesday, however, Ahmadinejad ridiculed a European Union plan to offer trade and technology incentives in exchange for his country agreeing to halt sensitive nuclear work.
Chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei called on the EU and US to bear in mind Iran's position in the Middle East and to include a security component in the plan.
"Iran is surrounded by countries that have nuclear weapons," he said. "The only solution is a package that should include security issues."
European powers including Britain, France and Germany are drawing up a package in the hope of coaxing Iran into voluntarily curbing its atomic ambitions.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has said the offer contains "issues relating to nuclear, economic matters, and maybe, if necessary, security matters."
Diplomats said that under the draft deal, Russia would enrich uranium on Iran's behalf and could also help Tehran acquire a light-water nuclear reactor.
The offer was to have been reviewed Friday in London by the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany, but US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the world powers would now meet Tuesday to work out a common approach.
Washington has been calling for a Security Council resolution that would invoke Chapter Seven of the UN Charter that could authorize sanctions or even military action as a last resort.
But fellow veto-wielding Security Council members Russia and China, which have close trade ties with Tehran, have so far opposed coercive measures to rein in Iran's nuclear activities.
Washington won't guarantee Iran's security
Asked about the EU proposal, McCormack said the United States would not give Iran security guarantees in exchange for forfeiting its nuclear program. "That's not something from the United States that's on the table," he said.
According to Reuters, one EU diplomat said the US has told Israel it would never give Iran a security guarantee unless it recognizes the State's right to exist.
But the EU insists that only the US can guarantee Iran's security and is holding out hopes that Washington might yet consider an indirect security guarantee by at least blessing the EU plan.