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. Iran issues threat to US interests
TEHRAN (AFP) Oct 03, 2005
Iran will use "all means" to damage US interests if Washington steps up the pressure on the Islamic republic over its disputed nuclear programme, a top official was quoted as saying Monday.

"The Americans should know that if they put more pressure on our country, Iran will be obliged to use all means to disrupt the situation and endanger its interests," top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani was quoted as saying by the right-wing Siassat Rouz paper.

"The regime will not for a moment hold any doubts over its right to master nuclear technology and will use all means to acquire it," added Larijani, the hardline secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.

He did not elaborate on how Iran could threaten US interests. Washington already accuses Iran of backing insurgents in Iraq, hosting al-Qaeda operatives and undermining Middle East peace efforts.

Iran insists its nuclear programme it strictly peaceful, but the European Union and United States want Iran to abandon its work on the sensitive nuclear fuel cycle -- which can be diverted to military use.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month adopted a resolution that finds Iran in "non-compliance" with nuclear proliferation safeguards -- an automatic trigger for taking the matter to the Security Council.

But Larijani said that despite the harsh resolution, "nothing particular has happened" and added that "the path decided upon will be crowned with success".

He also criticised Iran's previous nuclear negotiators, led by the moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani, of "showing weakness".

It was Rowhani's team who agreed to a suspension of uranium enrichment work in 2004 and a full suspension of related activities the following year.

Since the presidential election victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June and the appointment of Larijani as top negotiator, Iran has hardened its position by rejecting proposals that it abandon fuel cycle technology in return for incentives and resuming uranium conversion work in defiance of an agreement with Britain, France and Germany.

Larijani has already threatened to block tough IAEA inspections and resume enrichments -- moves that would be certain to spark a serious crisis.

He was also quoted as repeating that "the question of leaving the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is not there, but if they pressure us and go beyond treaty regulations we will undeniably re-examine our commitment to the

Iran asserts making fuel for reactors is a right enshrined by the NPT, whereas the US -- which has lumped Iran into an "axis of evil" -- argues the clerical regime cannot be trusted with such dual-use technology.

And while Larijani said Iran was "ready to continue negotiations and confidence-building measures", he added that "to threaten the use of the Security Council leaves negotiations open to question."

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