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. Khatami says IAEA must accept Iran's right to enrich uranium
TEHRAN (AFP) Aug 28, 2004
The UN nuclear watchdog must accept Iran's right to enrich uranium as part of its civil nuclear programme, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Saturday.

"We are still hoping that with the negotiations we have had, we will arrive at a logical solution that they recognise our right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes and accept us into the club," the president said.

"After that there will be no problem" between the Islamic republic and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he added.

The IAEA is due to hold a fresh round of discussions on Iran's suspect nuclear programme and examine the progress of inspections on September 13.

Under pressure from the IAEA, Iran agreed last year to suspend enriching uranium -- one of the most sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle that can, depending on the level of enrichment, provide both fuel for power stations or for nuclear bombs.

But Iran has backed away from a pledge to also suspend its work on other parts of the cycle, resuming the assembly of centrifuges, carrying out uranium conversion and building a heavy water reactor.

The three main European powers -- Britain, France and Germany -- have been pushing Iran to abandon its fuel cycle work altogether, even if such work is technically permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Iran, however, has asserted it has the right to make its own nuclear fuel and not be reliant on foreign imports. Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons, describing them as "unIslamic".

Many sceptics say that by pushing on with the fuel cycle, Iran is seeking to acquire the "option" to develop the bomb at a later date. The United States and Israel say oil- and gas-rich Iran has no need for nuclear power and is only seeking weapons.

IAEA inspectors have been working here since early 2003, and are still trying to establish the exact nature of Iran's nuclear activities.

Their latest report is due to be released next week. Since inspections began, the Vienna-based body has regularly complained of contradictions and omissions in Iran's reporting.

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