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. Iranian FM reaffirms Tehran's right to nuclear power for peaceful purposes
BUDAPEST (AFP) Feb 14, 2005
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi reaffirmed on Monday Tehran's right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, despite a fresh warning from Germany that Iran could face sanctions in the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme.

"We consider enrichment as part of our legitimate rights," Kharazi said at a press conference after meeting his Hungarian counterpart Ferenc Somogyi.

"What remains is how to remove the concerns that Iran does not divert towards nuclear weapons," Kharazi said.

He said the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, could inspect "wherever they wish, any time they want" to make certain that Tehran's use of uranium enrichment is not used to make nuclear weapons.

"Iran has been always pushing for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Basically this means that it is forbidden based on our ideology, based on our Islamic thinking it is forbidden to produce and use nuclear weapons as well as other weapons of mass destruction," Kharazi said.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who will meet Kharazi on Wednesday in Berlin, said over the weekend that if Iran restarted its uranium enrichment programme, Tehran would have to face the sanctions from the UN Security Council.

The pressure by Germany is part of a mix of "carrots and sticks" from the international community to convince Iran to give up uranium enrichment -- which the United States believes Tehran is using as a cover for an atomic weapons programme.

Iran insists the nuclear programme is purely for civilian energy purposes.

"Iran does not want to play a destabilizing role in the region," Kharazi said of speculation it wants to acquire nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Tehran on Sunday rejected an offer from Britain, France and Germany to give up construction of a heavy-water reactor -- which can be used to make nuclear weapons material -- in exchange for a light-water reactor offered by the Europeans.

A light-water reactor is deemed less of a nuclear proliferation risk.

Kharazi meanwhile rejected any possibilities that the breakdown of talks with the EU could trigger a military confrontation with the United States, which so far has said that it does not plan such an attack.

"This is a psychological war against Iran," he said. "Iran is able to defend itself."

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