Iran's Khatami demands "realistic" approach from UN nuclear watchdog
TEHRAN (AFP) Mar 11, 2004
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has called on the UN's nuclear watchdog to adopt a more "realistic" approach in its dealings with the Islamic republic, repeating warnings that his government could cease cooperating with it.

In a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Khatami called for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to have a "realistic policy and not be influenced" by arch-enemy the United States, which accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons.

"This is necessary for cooperation to continue between the IAEA and Iran," the president was quoted as saying by the student news agency ISNA.

"Iran is ready to cooperate with the international community," Khatami said in his talks with Putin on Wednesday, and repeated assertions that Iran's nuclear programme is solely aimed at generating electricity.

Iran on Wednesday criticised European states for bowing to US pressure to condemn Tehran's atomic programme before the UN nuclear watchdog.

The IAEA's 35-nation board of governors is still debating at its Vienna headquarters a resolution on Iran, with a vote expected later in the week, and Iran has reacted angrily at the prospect of it facing condemnation.

The United States, which wants to take Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, agreed on a compromise text Tuesday with Britain, France and Germany, which have stressed the need to get Iran to cooperate with the international community over nuclear non-proliferation.

The text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, condemns Iran for failing to report such crucial technologies as advanced P-2 centrifuge designs for enriching uranium, possibly to weapons grade, despite it having claimed to have fully disclosed its nuclear program in a declaration to the IAEA last October.

But the draft resolution puts off any immediate reaction, such as declaring Iran to be in non-compliance with the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a move that would mean the issue being taken up by the UN Security Council, paving the way towards possible sanctions.

Russia is helping Iran build its first atomic power station, in the southern city of Bushehr, but has been under massive US pressure to scrap the lucrative deal.