Iran's President Rejects Obama Accusations On Nuke Program


NEW YORK (CNN) -- President Barack Obama's accusations that Iran's nuclear program runs afoul of international agreements are "baseless," the Islamic republic's president told CNN's Larry King on Friday.

"We did not expect Mr. Obama within less than 48 hours, to basically violate the commitment that he spoke of at the United Nations," said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an interview to be aired Friday night.

The Iranian leader was referring to Obama's Wednesday speech to the U.N. General Assembly, where the American president called for international unity in attacking the world's challenges.

Asked if he was expressing disappointment in the U.S. president, Ahmadinejad responded, "We simply didn't expect him to say something that was ... was baseless."

Ahmadinejad's comments -- to air on CNN at 9 p.m. ET -- came the same day that Obama declared that "Iran is on notice" regarding its nuclear efforts, and that the international community is largely united in its opposition to Tehran's nuclear program.

Speaking in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the meeting of the G-20 nations, Obama said Iran must decide whether to give up its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons and abide by international rules or risk confrontation.

Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, an assertion disputed by the intelligence agencies of the United States, Britain and France.

Asked about criticism from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Ahmadinejad was unswayed, saying their statements "lack any legal credibility and, from our standpoint, what they say is not of much value. If they have the guts, they might as well resolve the problems that face them in France and in Britain. Who exactly are they to decide about others around the world?"

Their comments came hours after Iran acknowledged the existence of a second uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qum and ahead of a planned meeting set for October 1 between Iran and the five permanent United Nations Security Council members, plus Germany. The meeting will take place in Geneva, Switzerland.

Obama said his "preferred course of action is to resolve this in a diplomatic fashion; it's up to the Iranians to respond."

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says he believes there's still room for diplomacy with Tehran to settle the issue.

The reality is, there is no military option that does anything more than buy time," Gates told CNN's John King in an interview set to air at 9 a.m. Sunday. "The estimates are one to three years or so.

"And the only way you end up not having a nuclear-capable Iran is for the Iranian government to decide that their security is diminished by having those weapons, as opposed to strengthened. And so I think, as I say, while you don't take options off the table, I think there's still room left for diplomacy."

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