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Iran Plans to Continue Uranium Enrichment, Despite Pressure - 2003-10-07


Iran says it plans to continue uranium enrichment, despite international pressure to stop the process. Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi says his country has a legitimate right to use nuclear technology.

Defying international pressure, Iran says it will continue its uranium enrichment program. Tehran had said earlier that traces of enriched uranium found by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency were not produced in Iran but came from imported materials.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi, quoted by the official IRNA news agency, said Tehran will not allow anyone to deprive it of its legitimate right to use nuclear technology, particularly the enrichment program to provide fuel for nuclear plants. He was speaking late Monday at a conference of prayer leaders, according to IRNA.

Enriched uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power stations, but could also be used in atomic weapons.

The IAEA has given Iran until the end of October to prove it is not building nuclear weapons and to agree to an international protocol that would subject the country's nuclear program to closer scrutiny. Tehran says the uranium enrichment is part of the country's peaceful atomic energy program and denies U.S. accusations that it is pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Mr. Kharazi said that, despite disagreements with the IAEA, Iran does not plan to quit the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), something Iranian hard-liners have asked for.

According to IRNA, the Iranian foreign minister told the prayer conference, Iran is one of the backers of the NPT and is determined to remain one of its signatories.

He repeated Iran's claim that nuclear weapons development goes against the Islamic republic's religious values and that Iran was committed to a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East.

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