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. Iran to challenge UN nuclear report
TEHRAN (AFP) Sep 07, 2005
Iran is to challenge a tough report on its nuclear programme by the UN's atomic energy watchdog as it contains "errors" and makes "unacceptable" demands of the Islamic republic, a senior official told AFP Wednesday.

The senior nuclear negotiator, Ali Agha Mohammadi, also warned the United States and European Union that referring Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions was "a threat that is doomed to fail".

"We are in the process of examining the report and responding point by point to its errors. Several demands are unacceptable and go beyond international treaties and the additional protocol" of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, said the spokesman for Iran's Supreme National Security Council.

A report last week by Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), outlined Iran's failure to completely allay suspicions it is seeking nuclear weapons.

ElBaradei wrote that Iran had continued with nuclear fuel work, despite calls for a suspension, and noted that the IAEA was "not yet in a position to clarify some important outstanding issues after two and a half years of intensive inspections and investigation".

"Iran's full transparency is indispensable and overdue," said the report, which has already been slammed by Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani as "political".

Iran says its nuclear programme is a peaceful effort to generate electricity -- something it insists it has a right to do as a signatory of the NPT. It has also signed the NPT's additional protocol -- which gives the IAEA reinforced powers of inspection.

Mohammadi said that any talk of a freeze therefore went beyond the NPT.

"We will accept anything that is a part of international norms. We have accepted to apply the additional protocol but the IAEA cannot invent specific rules for Iran," he said.

Iran had agreed to suspend uranium enrichment-related work as part of a deal struck with Britain, France and Germany in November last year. Uranium enrichment can make reactor fuel but the process can be diverted to military purposes.

The EU-3 have been trying to convince Iran to abandon enrichment work altogether in exchange for a package of trade and technology incentives. But angered by the proposal, Iran last month resumed uranium conversion -- a precursor to enrichment.

"We will not accept negotiations with conditions. The suspension was voluntary... but the Europeans made unacceptable demands," said Mohammadi.

With the country refusing to return to a freeze, the issue could be taken to the UN Security Council -- a move that would represent a serious diplomatic blow to Iran.

"There is no need to send the case to the Security Council. If it is sent there, that means it is political (and) a threat that is doomed to fail. We call for international cooperation and reject threats," the official said.

Iran's new hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has pledged new proposals to resolve the row, and Iran seems determined to widen negotiations beyond the EU-3 to include members of the Non-Aligned Movement -- such as South Africa and Malaysia who are more sympathetic to the Iranian position.

On Wednesday Larijani was in Pakistan -- a fellow Islamic republic but also a key US ally -- as part of Tehran's search for regional support. The top negotiator has already visited India and China in recent weeks.

A senior EU diplomat said Tuesday that the 25-member bloc has lost hope that Iran will again suspend its nuclear fuel work or resume talks, and added that the EU's present role had virtually ended.

Separately, a British-based think tank said that Iran was at least five years away from producing enough material for a nuclear bomb, but in any case diplomatic efforts to hold it back were failing.

"Iran is now much less worried about the US attacking them because of the mess in Iraq... They're testing the waters," Gary Samore of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said in London.

All rights reserved. 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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