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. Iran insists nuclear program no threat to US regional allies
TEHRAN (AFP) Jan 31, 2005
Iran insisted on Monday that its nuclear activities are solely for peaceful purposes after a top US arms official said its program posed a major security threat for Washington's allies in the Middle East.

"We have announced all Iran's nuclear activities are for developmental and peaceful purposes," government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh told reporters.

During a trip to Bahrain on Sunday, US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton said although Iran could not yet strike the United States "they can strike our friends and allies in the region and the broader region here".

The United States has accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons, charges Tehran vehemently denies.

"We think only the ones who feel their interests are harmed by our peaceful plans see danger in these projects." Ramezanzadeh said, adding, "Our religion does not allow the use weapons of mass destruction."

Bolton, a noted hawk in President George W. Bush's administration, reaffirmed Washington's belief that Iran "has been pursuing this strategic decision to acquire nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles delivery systems."

The comments came amid a hardening of US rhetoric against the Islamic republic, which Bush has already lumped into an "axis of evil".

Earlier this month, Bush said he could not rule out using force if Tehran failed to rein in its nuclear plans, and US Vice President Dick Cheney said Iran was "right at the top of the list" of global trouble spots.

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