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Iranian President Refuses to Negotiate Nuclear 'Right'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still affirms Iran's right to pursue a nuclear program, but says he is open to discuss the "peaceful use" of nuclear energy. His statement follows Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's agreement to supply Iran with 20,000 barrels of petrol a day.

At a news conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad said the Islamic Republic is willing to discuss the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the challenges facing the world. But he ruled out any talks about the Iran nuclear program's right to exist.

U.S. President Barack Obama has set an end of September deadline for Iran to discuss its disputed nuclear program with world powers.

Executive Director of the British-American Information Security Council Paul Ingram says Mr. Ahmadinejad's remarks will not build global confidence in the Obama administration's nuclear-disarmament program.

"The problem really resides in the approach that has been taken up to now is not working. And I do not think it has a prospect of working. The Iranians have been quite clear that they will continue their enrichment process. They will weather the sanction storm, and there is no sign that it is going to change," Ingram said.

He argued that the Obama administration should develop a new strategy to appeal to the Iranian government.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has just agreed on a deal with its closest South American ally, Venezuela. Wrapping up a two-day visit to Iran, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his country will sell Iran 20,000 barrels of petrol a day, a deal Mr. Chavez says is worth $800 million.

He says the plan is to begin in October, along with an Iranian and Venezuelan joint bank. This would mean Iran and Venezuela would be required to deposit $100 million within the next 30 days.

At a news conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad says the countries have united to form an anti-imperialist front.

Ingram said the United States and its allies should tread lightly to avoid an ideological conflict and political isolation.

"Because I think, in the end, the power that is in Venezuela and Iran and other countries, particularly given their oil reserves, is such that we cannot afford to have them outside the international community," Ingram said.

The international community will have to continue to wait as Mr. Ahmadinejad's end of September deadline draws nearer.