Iran willing to cooperate if US changes attitude: Iranian FM
WASHINGTON (AFP) Sep 25, 2003
Iran would be willing to work with the United States on a number of issues, including its nuclear activities, if Washington changes its attitude towards Iran for the better, a top Iranian official told The Washington Post.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said in an interview published Thursday that his government was willing to sign an amendment to its nuclear proliferation agreement that would provide for unannounced inspections and enhanced safeguards.

The United States, for its part, would have to make it clear that signing the additional protocol would end the debate over Iran's nuclear intentions, Kharrazi said.

"We want to make sure the additional protocol would be enough and would solve the problem," Kharrazi said.

"We don't have anything to hide because we do not have a program for producing nuclear weapons. Therefore, we are ready to be quite transparent. But we cannot let others deny our rights," he added.

Iran is suspected of using an uranium enrichment program to secretly produce nuclear weapons and so far has balked at an October 31 deadline imposed by the Inernational Atomic Energy Agency to prove otherwise.

In New York attending the UN General Assembly, Kharazi on Wednesday defied the UN's nuclear watchdog by stating that Iran would not bow to international demands to give up its uranium enrichment activities.

"It's a matter of national pride to have this capability, this technology especially when it's produced domestically. This does not mean that producing (nuclear) weapons will be on our agenda," he told a business and security forum.

Kharazi told The New York Times he was puzzled by Washington's attitude toward Iran, saying it was "contrary to their own interests." He said that after the US-led war in April to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the US administration abruptly stopped seeking cooperation with Iran.

US President George W. Bush, in January 2002 included Iran in a triad of countries he branded the "axis of evil" -- North Korea and Iraq were the other two.

Kharazi said Iran wanted to turn around its relation with Washington.

"When it is decided to mend relations, we are serious about that," he said. "But the problem is there is no room for that now. The environment does not allow it because Americans are always trying to suspect us, always tried to humiliate us and pressure us.

"But if they change their minds, if they change their approach and bring in a new environment for cooperation, we would be ready to work with Americans and cooperate," he added