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Iran's Foreign Minister Says US Threats Not Helpful to Resolving Nuclear Issue

Following a week of intense international pressure on Iran to comply with U.N. resolutions demanding it suspend uranium enrichment, Tehran's top diplomat says his country is cooperating with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency and wants a peaceful solution to the crisis. VOA's Margaret Besheer has more from U.N. headquarters.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Motaki says there have always been two options for resolving the crisis surrounding his country's nuclear activities - cooperation and confrontation.

"We did - and we do - prefer the first option," he said.

He told reporters Wednesday at the United Nations that Tehran is cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency to answer what he said are "six or seven sets" of questions about its nuclear program, adding that the IAEA is the appropriate forum for such a discussion.

Last week Iran won a temporary reprieve from possible new U.N. sanctions for not complying with international demands that it stop enriching uranium. Motaki says sanctions are unfair and do not work, and the decision to delay new ones shows the permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany, are finally taking what he called "a realistic approach" to the issue.

He added that U.S. saber rattling to pressure Iran is ineffective, because Tehran believes Washington is in no position follow through.

"Our analysis is clear," said Motaki. "The U.S. is not in a position to impose another war in our region."

The Iranian foreign minister says his country is peaceful and has never attacked a neighbor. He adds that Tehran does not want to see the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and reaffirmed his government's stance that it only seeks nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

But President Bush says Iran's president has made very provocative statements in the past, including threatening to destroy Israel. Mr. Bush told an audience in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania on Wednesday that the world needs to understand the potential consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran.

"This is a leader who has made very provocative statements, and we have made it clear, however, in spite of that we are willing to sit down with him so long as he suspends his program, his nuclear weapons program," President Bush said. "In other words, it's his choice not mine any more."

Mr. Bush says the United States' objective is to, with the help of the international community, peacefully persuade the Iranians to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions for the sake of peace.