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. Iranian nuclear official denies Rowhani resignation
TEHRAN (AFP) Jul 06, 2005
An Iranian nuclear negotiator on Wednesday vehemently denied a report by the official agency IRNA that the official in charge of Iran's nuclear programme, Hassan Rowhani, had resigned.

Ali Agha Mohammadi, spokesman for the Supreme National Security Council, which is headed by Rowhani, told AFP the announcement by state news agency IRNA was "totally false."

Earlier Wednesday, IRNA said "Hassan Rowhani officially presented his resignation to President Mohammad Khatami." It gave no further details on the purported move.

Mohammadi said "a resignation right now would not make any sense," adding that Rowhani had actually met with ultra-conservative president-elect Mahmood Ahmadinejad on Wednesday.

The latest news comes less than two weeks after Ahmadinejad was elected president, beating rival candidate Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, to whom Rowhani is considered to be close.

It also takes place at a delicate phase in negotiations between Iran and the European Union over the future of the country's nuclear programme.

Germany, France and Britain have been seeking guarantees that the programme, which Tehran says is exclusively for peaceful purposes, will not be diverted into the production of nuclear weapons. The United States and other countries accuse Iran of secretly developing a bomb, something Tehran vehemently denies.

As part of the talks, Iran agreed temporarily to suspend enrichment of uranium but insists on its right and intention to resume the process, which makes fuel for reactors but can also be diverted to military purposes.

The "EU-3" have expressed concern that the election of Ahmadinejad will result in Iran taking a hardline in the talks.

The last round of talks ended in May without any resolution. Iran is now waiting for the latest EU proposal, which is expected by the end of the month.

Ahmadinejad takes office on August 3.

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