Iran’s Ahmadinejad Says He’s Waiting for Signs of U.S. Change

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country is waiting for the U.S. to show “signs of real change” under the Obama administration, calling it “a necessity” for improving relations between the two countries.

“Is the outlook of the U.S. renewed?” Ahmadinejad said in an interview with Iranian state television broadcast late today. “Is it willing to respect the nation? Is bullying going to disappear?”

The U.S. broke diplomatic ties with Iran nearly three decades ago after Iranian militants held 52 Americans hostage in Tehran for 444 days. The two countries are entangled in a dispute over the Persian Gulf country’s nuclear program, which the U.S. accuses of being a cover for developing weapons. Iran denies the claim, saying it only seeks to produce electricity for a growing population.

Ahmadinejad, who is critical of the U.S. for what he calls “imperialistic” policies and for seeking to destabilize Iran’s cleric-led regime, said last week his government is ready for negotiations based “on mutual respect.”

“We are waiting for signs of real change,” he said today. “If real change takes place, this will naturally lead to a different relation,” between Iran and the U.S.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said he is prepared to engage in talks with Iranian officials to try to solve differences, in particular over Iran’s nuclear activities. Iran is “beyond the issue of suspension” of uranium enrichment activities, Ahmadinejad said.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said today at a conference in Paris that Iran is more than a year away from being able to make a nuclear weapon, leaving time for diplomacy.