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Iran's Foreign Minister Says Nuclear Program Strictly for Peaceful Purposes - 2003-09-26

Iran's foreign minister has again rejected accusations that his country is developing nuclear weapons. The denial came during a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Thursday, hours after international inspectors were reported to have found traces of weapons grade uranium in Iran.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the General Assembly Iran is in compliance with all treaties on the spread of weapons of mass destruction. He said Iran's nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes.

Mr. Kharrazi accused the international community of a double standard in its criticism of Iran. "The political pressure against the Islamic Republic of Iran to set aside its inalienable rights to develop peaceful nuclear technology is unfortunately mounting in circumstances where some nuclear weapons states are testing advanced tactical weapons programs," he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has set an October 31 deadline for Iran to prove its nuclear program is not for weapons. But in his speech, Mr. Kharrazi indicated his country will refuse to comply with the demand. "Iran will vigorously pursue its peaceful nuclear program and not give into unreasonable demands that are discriminatory, selective and go beyond the requirements of non-proliferation in accordance with IAEA instruments," he said.

Hours before Mr. Kharrazi spoke, President Bush said there was broad agreement among world leaders that Iran must not be allowed to have a nuclear weapons program. He said he had discussed the matter in several meetings during his just-completed visit to the United Nations, and would speak about it during meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the next few days.

A White House spokesman later said that if Iran fails to comply with the demands of the IAEA which is a U.N. agency, the matter should be brought before the Security Council.