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Iran Questions NATO Chief's Nuclear Stand


Iran says NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has no business expressing judgment on Iran's nuclear program.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said Wednesday that Scheffer should rely on the findings of the U.N. nuclear agency.

The Reuters news agency quoted the NATO chief this week as saying he doubted the world could stop Iran from seeking nuclear weapons.

Speaking on Iranian state television, Qashqavi argued that the International Atomic Energy Agency has shown Iran is not pursuing nuclear arms.

The IAEA has not cleared Iran of Western charges that it is seeking nuclear weapons, saying only that it is at a standstill with Tehran in its investigation.

Qashqavi also questioned comments attributed to Scheffer that the alliance leader saw no reason for Israel to "abandon its potential." Israel is widely believed to be the only country in the Middle East to have nuclear arms.

Qashqavi argued that Iran has never initiated acts of aggression against any nation, while Israel has.

Western nations want Iran to stop enriching uranium, which could be used to make nuclear arms. Tehran has said repeatedly its program is for peaceful purposes.

U.S. officials said today representatives of the six nations working to persuade Iran to stop enrichment will hold a telephone conference in the coming days to discuss what steps to take next.

The six countries are the U.S., Russia, China, Britain France and Germany.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.