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. West must close Iran nuclear file: new atomic chief
TEHRAN, July 18 (AFP) Jul 18, 2009
Iran's new atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said on Saturday that the West should close the Islamic republic's nuclear file and cease its hostility towards Tehran.

"Legal and technical discussions about Iran's nuclear case have finished ... and there is no room left to keep this case open," Salehi said in his first remarks since being appointed Friday to head Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation.

At the heart of Iran's nuclear controversy lies its defiant insistence on continuing to enrich uranium. Highly enriched uranium can be used to make atomic weapons while low enriched uranium is used in nuclear power plants.

The West fears that Iran has a covert plan to use the technology to make nuclear weapons but Tehran insists the technology will be used only for peaceful purposes.

"We hope that more efforts be made (by the West) in order to obtain mutual confidence instead of the past six year's hostile era and this case... will be closed as soon as possible," Salehi said.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Friday announced the appointment of Salehi, Iran's former envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, replacing the former chief of 12 years, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh.

Salehi is known as an open minded administrator and he was the one who signed the protocol with the IAEA in December 2003 which gave the UN agency a freer hand in inspecting Iran's nuclear sites.

Ahmadinejad's present government stopped applying that protocol, linked to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in February 2006 shortly after Iran's nuclear programme was referred to the UN Security Council.

Aghazadeh has given no reason for his resignation but he has long been a friend of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main opposition leader who is bitterly disputing Ahmadinejad's re-election and has demanded a re-run of the presidential vote.

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