Iran answers unmet uranium deadline with 'ultimatum' of its own for the West

Iran not only refused to meet the deadline imposed by Washington and other members of the international community to accept a U.N.-backed uranium deal, but has ushered in the new year by imposing a month-long deadline on the West in return.

If the West doesn't accept its own terms for swapping low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Saturday on state-run television, Iran will begin producing its own nuclear reactor fuel.

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"The international community has just one month left to decide" to accept Iran's conditional offer, Mottaki said. "This is an ultimatum."

The Dec. 31 deadline for Iran to meet the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) deal to ship enriched uranium out of the country to be returned as nuclear fuel rods came and went, as expected, with Iran defiant until the end.

Saturday's statements, though, rachet up that defiance, even though the White House had warned "the international community will act accordingly" should the Islamic Republic shun the uranium deal.

Iranian legislators also stepped up the rhetoric against the U.S. Saturday, in reference not only to the uranium deadline but by reports that Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was considering traveling to Tehran, with the blessing of the White House.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has no plans to negotiate with any American official, unless the country (the U.S.) changes its policies," member of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Zohreh Elahian said, according to Fars News Agency.

"Iran-US relations are not under such conditions that could produce results through a number of non-targeted meetings and talks," rapporteur of the parliament's Nationals Security and Foreign Policy Commission Kazzem Jalali told Fars on Saturday in response to a question about Kerry wishing to visit Iran.

"Americans are more seeking to exploit the media and means of propaganda in a bid to gain an advantage," Jalali said. "...A number of the high-ranking officials in the present U.S. administration sent letters for talks with Iranian officials when they served as senators.

"The bills ratified in the US legislative bodies against Iran are examples of paradoxical behavior which we are witnessing from American statesmen towards Iran, and indicate that their policies on Iran are not honest," he added.

The semi-official news agency quoted a member of Iran's foreign relations committee as saying Kerry's request was being reviewed.