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EU Commissioner Chris Patten says Iran has right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes

European Union Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten has said that the Islamic Republic of Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful aims, but he also urged Iran to sign the Additional Protocol to the NPT, IRNA reported from Brussels.

"The EU has repeatedly stated that the issue of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) constitutes one of the major areas of concern in its relations with Iran.

"While recognizing Iran's right as a party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, the Commission strongly supports the view of the EU that Iran must be fully transparent and in compliance with this treaty," said Patten in reply to a question by a Portugese member of the European Parliament, Paulo Casaca, concerning Iran's nuclear prgoram.

The question was put to Patten on 14 June but the commissioner's reply was given only last Thursday, August 7.

"The Commission welcomed the June 2003 report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) but noted with concern that Iran had failed to fulfill certain of its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) safeguards agreement.

"It trusts that Iran will address these shortcomings without delay and hopes that Iran will take steps to adhere to relevant international instruments, such as the IAEA Additional Protocol, to ensure adequate transparency," he added.

Patten also clarified that the EU does not consider the so-called National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) as a "democratic opposition."

"The Commission would hesitate to refer to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) as `the democratic opposition' to the regime in Tehran," Patten said in his reply to the MEP.

Casaca is a supporter of the NCRI, the so-called political arm of the terrorist grouplet known as Mujahideen Khalq (MKO).

In June, the European Council reiterated that the MKO continues to be on the EU's list of terrorist organizations.

Greek alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitis told the European Parliament in June that "the Council confirmed the inclusion on the (terrorist) list of the Iranian organization Mujahedeen Khalq."

He was replying to a question tabled by Casaca on the MKO during the EP's plenary session.

"I should point out that this evaluation was based on information given to member states in accordance with the procedures provided for and that there is a collective decision on this matter," noted Yiannitsis.

Greece held the six-month EU rotating presidency from January until June. Italy took over on July 1.

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

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