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Iran rejects pressures to sign additional protocol to NPT

Iran on Monday brushed aside pressures on Tehran to sign an additional protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), saying the country would take its national interests into account first to make a decision, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"No matter whether the pressures are increased or decreased, the Islamic Republic of Iran will make a decision on the basis of its national interests as well as its principles and values with realism and wisdom," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.

The official, talking to reporters in his weekly briefing, stressed that "westerners must have in mind that we have legitimate worries, which have to be addressed".

Asefi described the results of discussions between a legal team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts and Iranian officials here last week as "helpful".

"The session was helpful, in which the two sides put forward their views, but revealing details about the session, given its nature, is not necessary," he said.

"In the discussions, the two sides became familiar with each other's views. We too clearly announced our points of vantage," he added.

Asefi reiterated that Iran's nuclear energy programs are peaceful and that Tehran is not intending to use the nuclear energy technology for "political ends".

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly clarified at the highest official level what its view about nuclear arms is and President (Mohammad Khatami) explicitly announced last week that we have a religious ban on the use of nuclear weapons."

The legal IAEA team arrived in Tehran last Monday to discuss the technical details of the Additional Protocol to NPT, including existing 'ambiguities' which Iran says must be removed before the country decides on signing it.

The protocol could allow UN inspectors to visit Iran's nuclear facilities at short notice.

Iranian officials have said they look positively at the protocol, but have conditioned the signing on the lifting of sanctions by nuclear powers which have prevented Tehran from acquiring the know-how for peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said last week that the issue of signing the protocol "will be examined in the government and the final decision in this regard will be made by Supreme National Security Council after Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)'s approval".

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi has said Iran would decide on joining the protocol after hearing explanations given by the IAEA team about Tehran's concerns.

The legal experts' visit will be followed by that of a technical team to Iran soon to discuss Tehran's cooperation with the energy watchdog and compile a report for presentation to a meeting of IAEA's Board of Governors in Vienna in September.

Thirty-five members of the board are due to make a decision on Iran's nuclear energy activities after hearing IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei's report.

The board called on the Islamic Republic in its June 9 meeting to sign the Additional Protocol to NPT.

... Payvand News - 8/11/03 ... --

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