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February 10, 2013

Ahmadinejad Rejects Western Pressure

Iran's president says Tehran will not be pressured into negotiations about its disputed nuclear program.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicated Sunday that talks could proceed if Iran's adversaries stopped "pointing the gun" at his country.

The president made his statements Sunday at a rally in Tehran marking the 34th anniversary of the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed Shah and brought hardline Islamic clerics to power. His speech was carried live on state television.

President Ahmadinejad does not, however, have the authority to authorize negotiations over the nuclear program. That power lies with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who earlier this month rebuffed a U.S. call for direct negotiations as long as sanctions and other pressures remain.

Tehran is under a series of international sanctions aimed at curbing its controversial nuclear program of uranium enrichment - a process that has military and civilian applications. Iranian officials deny any intention to build nuclear weapons.

Iranians across the country rallied Sunday to mark the Islamic Revolution anniversary. In the capital, demonstrators waved Iranian flags and chanted "death to America" and "death to Israel" - slogans traditionally used to denounce the republic's arch-enemies.