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. Iran ex-president urges better climate for nuclear deal
TEHRAN, May 7 (AFP) May 07, 2008
Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani called on the international community on Wednesday to create a more conducive climate for Iran to give reassurances on its nuclear programme.

"If a friendly and rational atmosphere is established, Iran is ready to take the necessary action to secure the world's confidence," the state broadcaster's website quoted Rafsanjani as saying.

The ex-president, who retains a considerable powerbase as head of both Iran's top arbitration body, the Expediency Council, and the elite clerical Assembly of Experts, insisted that "mutual respect" between Iran and its Western critics was essential to resolving the nuclear standoff.

He reiterated that Iran had no desire to acquire the bomb.

"Our religious beliefs have never allowed us to use an atomic bomb and they will never," he was quoted as saying during a meeting with Austrian ambassador Michael Postle.

The five veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and United States -- plus Germany agreed on Friday to a new package of incentives for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.

The sensitive process, which can produce fuel for civil reactors or, in highly extended form, the fissile core of a nuclear bomb, has been at the centre of successive ultimatums from the UN Security Council that have led to three sets of UN sanctions.

Rafsanjani's comments came after Tehran said on Monday that it had no intention of giving ground on the issue of uranium enrichmenteven as a confidence-building measure.

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