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President Ahmadinejad Blasts UN; Offers Cooperation

Listen to Susan Yackee's interview with Alex Vatanka, a scholar with Middle East Institute in Washington:

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says U.N. Security Council resolutions are "worthless" and that Tehran will not back down from pursuing its nuclear program. But he proposed to help the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Iranian president mixed fiery criticism of the United States with a veiled offer to cooperate, insisting Tehran would continue to pursue its nuclear program in the face of pressure, but may eventually help the United States get out of Afghanistan.

He dismissed U.S. efforts to impose new sanctions on Iran, claiming U.N. Security Council resolutions are "not worth a penny."

Putting the United States in the accusation seat, he scolded Washington for fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He told the United States to withdraw from the region and remove its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This is what the Iranian nation advises you to do and it will be good for you," he said.

In what sounded like a positive gesture, Mr. Ahmadinejad said Tehran is "willing to help" the United States and its NATO allies to get out of what he called the "quagmire" of Afghanistan.

Speaking directly to his audience in the southern Iranian city of Yasuj, he claimed his recent visit to the United Nations in New York was a success and he had convinced his Western hosts their positions were wrong.

He said that it was the power and intelligence of the Iranian people that made what happened at the U.N. nuclear conference "a success for us and forced our adversaries to admit that their strategies were a failure."

The United States is trying to impose a fourth round of economic sanctions against Iran at the Security Council because of its refusal to stop uranium enrichment that may be employed to build nuclear weapons.

President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials have repeatedly stressed that U.N. and U.S. sanctions will have no effect on the Islamic Republic, although reports from inside the country speak of increasing unemployment, factory closures, rising inflation and unpaid workers.

But Turkey and Brazil have been trying to resuscitate a nuclear fuel swap deal, in limbo since last November, which would have temporarily prevented Iran from using its low-grade uranium stockpile to produce atomic weapons.

Mehrdad Khonsari of the London-based Center for Arab and Iranian Studies says a failure to adopt new sanctions against Tehran would ultimately have more serious consequences for the Iranian nation than the sanctions themselves.

"The fact that no serious Security Council sanctions will be passed will not alleviate the problem," he said. "It will only increase the problem in the sense that people will be forced to take measures that could be far more detrimental to the Iranian regime and the Iranian nation as a consequence of their inability to force a change of direction via sanctions," said Khonsari.

Khonsari adde that President Ahmadinejad's insistence sanctions will not harm Tehran is also meant to impress the Iranian people that he and the regime are "firmly in control," as the anniversary of last year's disputed presidential election approaches and fears mount of new unrest.