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. Iran hails UN nuclear chief remarks that drew US rebuke
TEHRAN, May 26 (AFP) May 26, 2007
Iran welcomed on Saturday comments by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei about its nuclear programme that drew a rebuke from the Western powers.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki praised ElBaradei for saying in a series of press interviews that Iran ought to be allowed to conduct some uranium enrichment.

But he also insisted on Iran's right to full mastery of the process that can produce fuel for nuclear reactors but in highly extended form can also make the fissile core of an atomic bomb.

"Naturally we approve of part of ElBaradei's comments and that is admitting to Iran's nuclear capacity and Iran's entry to industrial nuclear fuel production," Mottaki told reporters.

"We are happy that ElBaradei as someone who is in charge of the nuclear question has acknowledged these issues."

But Mottaki added: "Enrichment as part of Iran's right to master the nuclear fuel cycle should be completely respected and confirmed.

"We have made our objective clear and that is producing fuel for peaceful purposes."

ElBaradei has said in a series of recent interviews that the international community should deal realistically with the fact that Iran has attained the know-how to enrich uranium and should allow it to conduct some enrichment.

His comments prompted the United States to lead its allies Britain, France and Japan in lodging a protest with him at his headquarters in Vienna on Friday.

The four governments "raised their concerns about statements made by the director general (ElBaradei) to the media" on Iran's nuclear programme, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said in Washington.

Mottaki suggested the West was adopting double standards in dealing with Iran's nuclear programme.

"We understand the fact that some must have been angered by his words," he said. "Unfortunately there are still political motives and double standards in dealing with Iran's nuclear issue."

Iran insists that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it has a right to enrich uranium and denies accusations that it is seeking to develop a nuclear arsenal.

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