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. Iran says cooperation not threats needed over nuclear issue
TEHRAN (AFP) Sep 06, 2004
A senior Iranian official said Monday that cooperation and not threats were needed in the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program as he started a European tour to try to head off US efforts to haul his government before the UN Security Council.

"We've clearly told the European Union that Iran will never renounce its inalienable right to develop civilian nuclear technology but that we do not seek to develop an atomic bomb," Hassan Rowhani told Iranian state television from the Netherlands.

"We have stressed the solution to the problem of Iran's nuclear program is not pressure and threats but dialog."

Rowhani, Iran's top national security official, is to hold a series of high-level talks in the Netherlands -- the current holder of the EU presidency -- ahead of a fresh meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog on September 13.

The United States has sought to have the International Atomic Energy Agency refer Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions for allegedly trying to develop a nuclear arsenal.

Rowhani's mission follows a weekend meeting in the Netherlands of European leaders, who appeared to be torn between pursuing efforts to engage Iran and calls for a harder line over Tehran's nuclear program.

Iran insists the program is merely aimed at generating atomic energy.

Rowhani said he met Monday with Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Foreign Minister Bernard Bot.

"We talked about a dozen different subjects which constitute a strategic package of cooperation between Iran and the EU," said Rowhani.

Earlier the spokesman for Iran's reformist cabinet said the Islamic republic was willing to show greater transparency over its nuclear program in order to ease suspicions of bomb-making.

"We are ready to accept all kinds of surveillance to remove the fears of the international community," said Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, asserting Iran's commitment to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its additional protocol.

Iran is a signatory to the NPT and in December 2003 signed the additional protocol, which allows tougher inspections by the IAEA. The Iranian parliament, now controlled by conservatives, has yet to ratify that protocol.

Ramazanzadeh also reiterated Iran's refusal to abandon its work on the nuclear fuel cycle, which, although permitted under the NPT, has aroused concern because of its potential dual use.

"We have accepted to voluntarily suspend uranium enrichment, but it is illogical to ask us to renounce enrichment," he said at his weekly press conference.

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