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Iran Denies Having Nuclear Weapons Program


Iran says it has made advances in the field of nuclear fuel technology, but again denies it has a nuclear weapons program.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, released a statement Friday, saying that Iran has had big success in the field of nuclear fuel cycle technology.

Mr. Asefi also said Iran's advances were made in an attempt to overcome U.S. sanctions, and to ensure that Iran can become energy self-sufficient in the coming years.

His remarks came a day after a top U.S. diplomat said Iran continues to acquire nuclear weapons, and accused Tehran of breaking an agreement with the United Nations to suspend its nuclear enrichment program.

The spokesman for the Iranian foreign minister said Friday that his government favors banning weapons of mass destruction, because Iran was subject to chemical attacks by Saddam Hussein's regime during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Mr. Asefi also criticized President Bush's call for an international effort to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, saying Iran rejects the notion that the United States can dictate such matters to the rest of the world.

An expert on nuclear issues at Cairo's Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Mohamed Abdel Salam, says Iran's leaders accept international pressure to back away from nuclear weapons technology, but says their resistance to American influence is a way of appealing to public opinion in Iran.

He says Iran is playing the role of tough negotiator, even though the country realizes the danger of possessing nuclear weapons in the current political climate.

Iran agreed to suspend its nuclear enrichment program and allowed U.N. nuclear inspectors wider access to its nuclear facilities late last year U.N. inspectors said they found designs for a machine that could produce materials for an atomic bomb.