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Leader: Embargoes won't scare Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said embargoes are ineffective and the West should drop its aggressive approach if talks on Tehran's nuclear programme are to be successful.

Mr Ahmadinejad said at a Caspian Sea summit in Azerbaijan on Thursday that Iran is ready to return to six-party talks on its atomic energy program, which the West suspects may be directed at creating nuclear weapons. Iran denies that, saying it is for energy purposes.

Talks between Iran and world powers Russia, the US, Britain, France, China and Germany are expected to restart on December 5, but a venue is still to be determined. Mr Ahmadinejad suggested Istanbul, while the West wants Geneva.

"If they want their negotiations to be successful, they must reject their exploitative approach. If they take the side of justice, then we could reach certain results, and could cooperate on world issues," he said. "But, if they want to talk to us using old methods, then they must know that the results of negotiations will remain the same. Iran won't be scared by embargoes."

Iran is the subject of multiple US and UN sanctions, including weapons and other trade restrictions.

Last week, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the latest international sanctions are hitting Iran harder than that country's ruling regime had expected, and they should be allowed more time. He also said although military action against Iran remains an option, the threat of force is not the only way to stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

On another issue, Iran has enraged human rights activists by sentencing a woman suspected of adultery to death by stoning.

Mr Ahmadinejad defended the prosecution of 43-year-old lawyer Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose case is being reviewed by the country's supreme court. She faces the prospect of death by other means if the stoning sentence is revoked. The US and the EU have urged a stay of execution.

Meanwhile, an Iranian military official said the country successfully tested a new air defence missile system in a five- day exercise.

The system - known as Mersad, or Ambush in Farsi - was developed by Iranian scientists, General Hamid Arjangi told the official IRNA news agency. The exercise is meant to demonstrate Iran's ability to defend its nuclear facilities from possible attack.

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