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Iran Rejects Criticism of its Cooperation on Nuclear Issues - 2004-06-15


Iran's Foreign Minister has rejected claims that his government is not adequately cooperating with U.N. nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Mr. Kharrazi spoke at a gathering of Islamic foreign ministers in Turkey's commercial capital Istanbul.

Speaking at a news conference, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Iran has cooperated fully with the IAEA. He rejected any suggestion that Iran's nuclear program is for anything other than peaceful purposes. He said Iran has no intention whatsoever of developing nuclear weapons.

Mr. Kharrazi was responding to efforts by European nations at the IAEA board meeting in Vienna to get support for a resolution critical of Iran's level of cooperation. The resolution 'deplores' Iran for not providing complete cooperation with the agency. In addition, the IAEA Director Mohammed ElBaradei said Monday Iran has provided insufficient and contradictory information during the past year, and has not stopped producing centrifuge components that could be used to develop nuclear weapons.

The U.S. government has been pressing the IAEA to take tougher action against Iran. There is mounting concern among Western governments and Israel in particular that Iran is covertly seeking to enrich uranium in order to produce nuclear weapons. Iran says it has halted its uranium-enrichment activities.

Last year the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain flew to Iran to secure assurances from the Teheran leadership that it would provide unfettered access for IAEA inspectors. Their mission was aimed in part at avoiding the possibility that the IAEA board might impose sanctions against Iran.

The new resolution being discussed this week in Vienna does not include sanctions, but that could be a next step if Iran continues to disappoint IAEA officials and the 35-nation board.

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