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. Iran sees end to nuclear crisis 'very soon'
MADRID, Jan 16 (AFP) Jan 16, 2008
Iran voiced optimism Wednesday that the international crisis over its nuclear programme would soon be resolved "once and for all".

"We think the conditions and circumstances are quite favourable and we are getting ready to solve the (nuclear) issue once and for all," Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri told reporters.

The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog agency, Mohammed ElBaradei, "showed that some of the problems related to the nuclear issue have been solved," he added.

"His trip to Tehran leads us to think we will solve the issue very soon."

Bagheri was speaking on the sidelines of the Alliance of Civilizations Forum, a UN-sponsored initiative.

He also cited a US National Intelligence Estimate last month, which concluded that Tehran had shelved its nuclear weapons program in 2003, as further evidence that a solution was in sight.

On Tuesday however, US President George W. Bush appeared to distance himself from the NIE report's findings.

Speaking in Riyadh, he told his host, Saudi King Abdullah that he still considered Iran a threat and that all options remained on the table.

Washington and its allies insist Iran suspend enrichment to prove to the international community that its nuclear programme is peaceful, as Tehran claims.

Iran says it has a right to develop nuclear power for a growing population with increasing energy needs and adamantly refuses to suspend enrichment, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

Enriched uranium can be used to make both nuclear fuel and nuclear weapons.

The UN atomic watchdog, which has been investigating Iran's nuclear programme for several years, said Sunday that Tehran had agreed to clear up remaining questions on its activities in four weeks.

Bagheri accused "some countries" of "trying to influence and pressure Iran", but said "the Iranian position is entirely transparent and is not going to change."

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