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. Iranian FM denounces 'nuclear apartheid'
PARIS (AFP) Nov 30, 2005
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki accused Western powers of imposing a form of "nuclear apartheid" by denying Tehran the right to nuclear technology, in a French newspaper column published Wednesday.

In a guest column in Le Monde newspaper, Mottaki accused Western governments of making "arbitrary and dangerous demands" by calling for Tehran to "surrender its inalienable right to fully master nuclear technology".

"This is 'nuclear apartheid'," he charged.

"The path followed by Iran is neither dangerous, nor illegitimate, and has purely peaceful aims," he wrote in the evening paper.

"It is time to replace these outdated, rigid mentalities with a new approach based on equal rights on nuclear matters and a fair application of the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)," Mottaki argued.

If it is referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme, Mottaki warned Iran would have "no choice but to fully reconsider its approach towards the IAEA, including the confidence-building measures already taken."

Britain, France and Germany -- the so-called EU-3 -- have been engaged in tortuous negotiations with Tehran about its nuclear programme, aimed at ensuring that the country does not develop atomic weapons.

The talks broke off in August when Tehran rejected an offer of incentives in exchange for a promise to limit its nuclear work, and Iran has since resumed uranium conversion, a precursor to ultra-sensitive uranium enrichment work.

The IAEA last week put off a possible referral of Iran to the Security Council -- for non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- to give time for a new Russian diplomatic initiative, under which Russia would conduct uranium enrichment on Iran's behalf.

Enriched uranium can be used as fuel for civilian nuclear power plants but also, in highly enriched form, as the explosive core of a nuclear bomb.

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