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Pakistan, Iran Again Deny Cooperation on Nuclear Technology - 2003-08-29

Top officials from Pakistan and Iran have again denied allegations that the two countries are cooperating in the field of nuclear technology.

Speaking at a joint news conference in the Pakistani capital Friday, Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri and his Iranian counterpart said that the allegations are baseless and politically motivated.

Mr. Kasuri says Pakistan is a responsible member of the international community and it cannot even think of violating arrangements that call for nuclear non-proliferation. According to Mr. Kasuri, the charges are politically motivated.

"These reports were part of malicious smear campaign against Pakistan and Iran," he said. "Pakistan has never supplied in any manner whatsoever any assistance for Iran's nuclear program."

Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, told reporters his country's nuclear program, including an enrichment plant, is being developed without any outside assistance and is meant for peaceful purposes.

"We have developed these facilities just by ourselves. We do not have any program for nuclear weapons. It is not part of our security doctrine," he said.

But Mr. Kharrazi acknowledged that Iran has imported some components from foreign sources.

He said that traces of highly enriched uranium found by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Iran are the result of contamination and not an indication that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Mr. Kharrazi says that the United Nations nuclear agency is still working to verify his claim.

"Those components, bought from outside through dealers, have been contaminated and this is what we have explained to the IAEA, and I am sure that they will come to the same conclusion when they finalize their analysis and their information gathering," he said.

The United States accuses Iran of secretly developing a nuclear weapons program, which Iran denies. Mr. Kharrazi says that his country in recent weeks has allowed international inspectors to visit its nuclear sites and to take samples. He says Iran is also willing to allow more intense inspections to prove that a secret nuclear program is not under way in the country.