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. Iranian militia stage pro-nuclear protest outside EU embassies
TEHRAN (AFP) Aug 23, 2005
Hundreds of members of Iran's hardline Basij militia staged a series of demonstrations outside European embassies in Tehran Tuesday, chanting angry slogans and vowing to defend the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.

"Our nuclear activities are more important than the Iran-Iraq war. We will resist to the last drop of our blood," Ibrahim Motevalian, the head of the Basij at Tehran university, said in a speech to the demonstrators.

The 300 or so protestors, who included many black chador-clad women, paraded briefly outside the British, French and German embassies.

Iran is at loggerheads with the EU-3 after resuming uranium ore conversion, the precursor to the process of enrichment, at a facility near Isfahan earlier this month.

The step ended a nine-month freeze agreed during talks with Britain, France and Germany -- which have been trying to convince Iran to give up a technology that could also be directed to producing a bomb.

The British embassy has been frequently pelted with stones in past demonstrations, but the protestors were ordered by organisers not to do so and the atmosphere was generally calm, an AFP correspondent said.

However, the demonstrators chanted vitriolic slogans, damning the French ban on the Muslim headscarf in schools and shouting "We will not forget you provided Saddam with chemical weapons" at the German embassy.

"The British embassy must be shut down," they chanted outside the British embassy, before shouting "We wish Jack Straw the same fate as Robin Cook" -- the former British foreign secretary who died of a heart attack earlier this month.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called on Iran to halt all nuclear fuel cycle work and the UN watchdog is to report September 3 on its compliance.

Iran has refused to backtrack despite the risk of being referred to the UN Security Council, insisting it has the right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

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