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Iran says It Will Resume Nuclear Program, Accuses US of Bullying - 2004-03-10

Iran says it will resume nuclear enrichment activities, once relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency are normalized.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Wednesday that Iran will begin enriching uranium again, as soon as relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency return to normal.

Mr. Kharrazi said it is Iran's legitimate right to enrich uranium, and said his country halted its nuclear activities voluntarily and temporarily.

Meanwhile, Iran's ambassador to the U.N. nuclear agency, Pirooz Hosseini, accused the United States of bullying the international body to be harsh on Iran.

His remarks came as the IAEA came closer to agreeing on a draft resolution that balances U.S. calls to condemn Iran for hiding elements of its nuclear program with European calls to praise Iran for being open to inspections.

Analyst Amal Hamada, an expert on Iran and lecturer at Cairo University, says the strong words are meant to solicit a moderate response from the U.N. agency.

"I think they are trying to somehow blackmail the international community," said Ms. Hamada. "They are fully aware that they cannot stand any more sanctions and any more isolation from the international community. But they are taking the hard line, so they will force the other part to compromise." Iran has repeatedly said its nuclear program exists for peaceful purposes, but international inspectors have discovered designs for centrifuges that could be used for producing nuclear weapons. Iran did not disclose such plans when it opened its doors to international inspectors last year.

Iran's defense minister, Ali Shamkani, acknowledged Wednesday that military technicians have built centrifuges, but denied having advanced weapons-making machinery.