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Iran’s Ahmadinejad Says Talks Will Progress After U.S. Election

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said talks over his country’s development of enriched uranium will be more productive after the U.S. election and expressed optimism the two sides will “be able to take some steps forward.”

“We have seen during many years that as we approach the United States presidential election, no important decisions are made,” Ahmadinejad said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” program. “Following the election, certainly the atmosphere will be much more stable, and important decisions can be made and announced.”

Ahmadinejad, who is completing his second and last term as president, said meetings over Iran’s nuclear program with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, will result in “a very important decision” following the U.S. November election. Iran contends its nuclear facilities are for peaceful civilian purposes.

“We have set forth proposals, we are holding dialogue,” he said in the CNN interview, according to a transcript of the program scheduled to air today. “We do hope to be able to take some steps forward.”

U.S. President Barack Obama, in Sept. 25 speech before the General Assembly, said that time “is not unlimited” to reach a diplomatic resolution and vowed that the U.S. “will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

‘Hell to Pay’

Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Democrat Obama’s efforts to work with U.S. allies and impose strict sanctions on Iran is the correct policy. In an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” Lugar said that there “will be hell to pay” if those calling for war with Iran are successful.

“The implications for the Israeli people here are very severe,” said Luger, 80, who is leaving the Senate after 36 years following his defeat in a primary in May. “The idea of moving with our allies, as many as we can find, on effective sanctions on the country has been the right move.”

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has criticized Obama’s position, saying the president hasn’t been tough enough and that military action shouldn’t be ruled out. Romney said he would seek an international indictment of Ahmadinejad for incitement to genocide and would treat Iran’s diplomats “like the pariah they are.”

Red Lines

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, using a cartoon drawing of a bomb, told the UN Sept. 27 that the international community should impose “red lines” on Iran’s program to prevent the country from building nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad said he wasn’t concerned that action by Israel would alter Iranian policies. He likened any attacks to those by terrorists who explode bombs or assassinate officials.

“Will the country be destroyed? No,” Ahmadinejad said. “We see the Zionist regime at the same level of the bombers and criminals and the terrorists. Even if they do something, hypothetically, it will not affect us fundamentally.”

Ahmadinejad denied reports that the Iranian economy is faltering and said the sanctions haven’t hurt foreign trade.

“Many of the European companies are currently, as we speak, conducting trade with us,” he said. “Some of them do it in hiding. They do secretly, but they do conduct that trade. You hear some news and you believe that Iran’s economy is now in chaos. It is not so.”

Iran’s Economy

Foreign investment in Iran jumped 83 percent to $6.8 billion in the first half of the current Iranian year, which began on March 20, the Tehran Times reported Sept. 27, citing Deputy Economy Minister Behrouz Alishiri.

Iran’s Central Bank on Sept. 5 said the country’s inflation rate was 23.5 percent in the month that ended Aug. 20. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani was quoted by Shargh newspaper Sept. 26 as saying it was actually 29 percent.

Iran‘s currency, the rial, hit a record low against the U.S. dollar yesterday in the country‘s capital, Tehran, where the street traders were selling dollars at 28,100 rials, the state-Run Mehr news agency reported.

On Syria, Ahmadinejad again refused to call on President Bashar al-Assad to step down. He said a group whose members include representatives from Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia could help negotiate a peace, including setting up a national election.

Syrian troops are battling with rebels in the commercial hub of Aleppo, the country’s largest city. International efforts to end the 18-month conflict have failed to stop the violence as rebels continue the fight to overthrow Assad that began March of last year. The conflict has killed 30,000 people, according to estimates by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group.

To contact the reporter on this story: Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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