Iran rejects Bush call on fighting spread of weapons of mass destruction
TEHRAN (AFP) Feb 13, 2004
Iran said Friday it favoured the elimination of weapons of mass destruction but criticised US President George W. Bush's call for the international community to strengthen the fight against the spread of such weapons.

Bush "speaks as if the United States should decide for the rest of the world and the international community. We reject this," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a statement received by AFP.

The US president on Wednesday cited Iran when he proposed that countries being investigated for violations of rules of non-proliferation should not be allowed on the governing council of the UN watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"Those actively breaking the rules should not be entrusted with enforcing the rules," Bush said, in an election-year speech.

Referring to the 1980-1988 war between Iran and neighbouring Iraq, Asefi pointed out that his country, which had been "victim of Iraqi chemical weapons ... favours the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction."

The Iranian spokesman termed Tehran's acquisition of uranian-enrichment technology a "great success" and said "Iran voluntarily accepted total and complete control by the IAEA".

In Rome on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi insisted that Tehran had a "legitimate right" to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes but denied it had any intention to develop nuclear weapons.

Kharazi was responding to questions from reporters after a senior US official alleged Iran was pursuing a programme to make nuclear weapons.