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Iran Welcomes Libya's Nuclear Disarmament Decision, Says Israel Should Do Same - 2003-12-21

Iran, which only recently agreed to allow tougher inspections of its nuclear program, says it welcomes news that Libya has decided to scrap its weapons of mass destruction program.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran that Libya's decision was positive. He said Iran welcomes steps taken by any country to dismantle weapons of mass destruction.

Last Thursday Iran, facing international pressure, signed an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allowing for more stringent and unannounced inspections of its nuclear facilities.

Late Friday, in a surprise announcement, Libya said it would allow international inspectors to oversee the dismantling of its weapons of mass destruction and related programs, including the enrichment of uranium, which is an essential element in the production of nuclear weapons.

Tehran has steadfastly denied having any atomic weapons program and has insisted its development of nuclear facilities is only for the peaceful production of electricity.

Mr. Asefi said Iran believes the world should move along the path of destroying all weapons of mass destruction. He also said it is time for the international community to press for Israel's disarmament, calling Israel the main threat in the region.

Israel has never acknowledged having a nuclear-weapons program nor has it signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.