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Khatami fiercely denies Iran's nuclear weapon ambitions
TEHRAN (AFP) Sep 15, 2003
Iranian reformist president Mohammad Khatami again fiercely denied Monday that his country was seeking nuclear weapons, the state news agency IRNA reported.

"Our slogan for the atomic bomb and weapons of mass destruction is no, no, no, but for advanced technology including peaceful nuclear technology is yes, yes, yes," Khatami said in a meeting of top commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards Corps.

"No one can stop us from our path," he said, while adding, "we do not want atomic and nuclear technology for destroying others."

His remarks came after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Tehran Friday to suspend its uranium enrichment program, reveal whether it was enriching uranium to weapons-grade level and accept an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which would allow for unannounced IAEA spot checks.

Khatami accused the United States, which had lobbied hard for the resolution by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, of making a "groundless uproar", while adding that it was in Washington's "tradition" to make "accusations ... and in the name of combatting aggression to oppress others."

Earlier a top Iranian cleric called the IAEA resolution, which gives Iran until October 31 to prove it is not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, part of an anti-Islamic conspiracy.

"The resolution is a great planned conspiracy in order to humiliate Islam," Grand Ayatollah Hossein Noori-Hamedani was quoted as saying by the student news agency ISNA.

"All the world should hear Iran's message of not accepting humiliation," said the influential cleric.

At IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Iranian Vice President and atomic energy agency chief Gholamreza Aghazadeh said Monday that Tehran remains fully committed to the NPT despite its objections to the deadline.

"Iran is fully committed to its NPT responsibilities not only because of its contractual obligation but also because of its religious and ethical considerations," Aghazadeh told the IAEA's general conference.

His comments set the record straight after Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, had said in a press interview that Iran was reconsidering its cooperation with the UN watchdog and might even withdraw from the NPT.

"We are studying the (IAEA) resolution carefully and will respond to it officially in a few days," Aghazadeh said, while accusing Washington of "escalating tension and chaos to divert attention from serious issues that deal with partisan politics in the United States."

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