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. US allegations against Iran 'baseless,' Iran diplomat says
WASHINGTON (AFP) Mar 27, 2005
Allegations by the US government that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons program are "baseless," but Tehran has the right to develop and diversify its own sources of energy, a top Iranian diplomat said Sunday.

Javad Zarif, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that Tehran feels it has made good progress in recent EU-led talks aimed at seeking guarantees that Iran will not seek nuclear weapons.

Britain, France and Germany are leading the diplomatic effort aimed at securing "objective guarantees" from Iran that it will not seek nuclear weapons, and in return are offering a package of incentives.

The United States, for its part, charges that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons program and has called for Tehran to be brought before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

"Iran has been under the most intrusive inspections over the last two years. And that inspection, time and again, has produced only one result: That Iran has not diverted its nuclear program toward nonpeaceful means." Zarif told CNN.

"I think that's a conclusion that will be shown time and again after this investigation continues. And I believe the United States has to live with it, that the allegations that it has made against Iran have simply been baseless," he said.

"And that is why the Iranian nuclear program, once supported by the United States in the 1970s, is a policy to diversify sources of energy. And that is quite acceptable, and it is our right to do that."

Zarif also expressed hope that Tehran's talks with the Europeans could bring "about a movement forward toward a mutually agreed framework to proceed."

Asked about comments by US officials that Iran should refrain from getting involved in Lebanon's internal politics, Zarif replied: "I believe that statement would apply and we would welcome that statement if the United States applied that statement to itself and to its allies."

"We believe that the people of Lebanon have to determine their future and their destiny, and we believe that forces within Lebanon have a right to participate in that process."

Quizzed about claims by US military officers that Iran is interfering in Iraq's affairs, the diplomat said it was ironic that US officers were making such suggestions.

"It would be rather ironic for a general who is in command of over 140,000 forces in a country to accuse another country of interference."

"But we have a very long border with Iraq. Our policy is to help in the maintenance of stability and security in Iraq. It is a difficult border to watch at the same time," the Iranian diplomat added.

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