TEHRAN (AP) — U.S. allies on Wednesday lined up behind President Obama’s new policy aimed at reducing the likelihood of nuclear conflict. But Iran, classified as a possible target under the guidelines, dismissed it as a “cowboy” policy by a political newcomer doomed to fail.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev — in Bratislava, the Slovak capital, for an official visit — did not address the issue before leaving for Prague to sign a landmark treaty Thursday with Mr. Obama aimed at paring U.S.-Russian strategic nuclear weapons by 30 percent. But Washington’s supporters in Asia and Europe welcomed Mr. Obama’s pledge Tuesday to reduce America’s nuclear arsenal, refrain from nuclear tests and not use nuclear weapons against countries that do not have them.
North Korea and Iran were not included in that pledge because they do not cooperate with other countries on nonproliferation standards.
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The United States considers them nuclear rogues — Pyongyang for developing and testing nuclear weapons and Tehran because it is suspected of trying to do the same under the cover of a peaceful program, something Iran denies. Outlining the policy Tuesday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the focus would now be on terror groups such as al Qaeda as well as North Korea’s nuclear buildup and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Addressing thousands in the country’s northwest, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad derided Obama over the plan.
“American materialist politicians, whenever they are beaten by logic, immediately resort to their weapons like cowboys,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a speech before a crowd of several thousand in northwestern Iran.
“Mr. Obama, you are a newcomer (to politics). Wait until your sweat dries and get some experience. Be careful not to read just any paper put in front of you or repeat any statement recommended,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in the speech, aired live on state TV.
Mr. Ahmadinejad said Obama “is under the pressure of capitalists and the Zionists” and vowed Iran would not be pushed around.
“(American officials) bigger than you, more bullying than you, couldn’t do a damn thing, let alone you,” he said, addressing Mr. Obama.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose country is the only Mideast nation considered to have nuclear weapons, dismissed speculation that the Jewish state could come under pressure.
“I’m not concerned that anyone would think that Israel is a terrorist regime,” he said. “Everybody knows a terrorist and rogue regime when they see one, and believe me, they see quite a few around Israel.”
Washington’s key European partners on its efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear activities welcomed the Obama initiative.
British Defense Secretary Bob Ainsworth said it “delivers strong progress” on pledges first made a year ago, adding that Britain “looks forward to working closely with the U.S. and other key allies and partners in the future.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero of France, like Britain a nuclear weapons state that backs global disarmament efforts, said Mr. Obama’s nuclear posture “is convergent with our views.”