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Iran Defends Nuclear Program - 2004-09-24


Iran's foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi has insisted on his country's right to a peaceful nuclear program. Mr. Kharrazi's speech to the U.N. General Assembly also included a sharp condemnation the invasion of Iraq.

Foreign Minister Kharrazi told the Assembly Iran has been in the forefront of efforts to ban nuclear weapons. But he said, through interpreter, Iran maintains its right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program.

"The legitimate disarmament and non-proliferation concerns of the international community must be addressed through transparency and vigorous application of monitoring mechanisms," he said. "Iran has always been prepared to contribute actively to this global effort. While we insist on our right to technology for peaceful purposes, we have left and will leave no stone unturned in order to provide assurances of our peaceful intentions."

Mr. Kharrazi's comments came as European diplomats said they are trying to persuade Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program, and may soon support U.S. demands for tougher action. French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told U.N. journalists Friday that Iran's nuclear program might soon be referred to the Security Council.

Tehran's government has repeatedly said its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful domestic energy needs.

Mr. Kharrazi's General Assembly speech included a sharp condemnation of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He called it an example of lawless militarism.

"A clear example of this lawlessness is the attack against Iraq. Attack against Iraq was illegal," he added.

Mr. Kharrazi thanked Secretary-General Kofi Annan for using the word "illegal" to describe the invasion during a British television interview this month.

At the same time, he said Iranians had benefited from Saddam Hussein's removal, and said many in Iran are joyous at seeing him behind bars. But he said as a matter of principle, the invasion that brought his arrest cannot but be viewed as the fruit of a forbidden tree.

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