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Iran surprised by "irresponsible" remarks of Russian officials

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi on Thursday said he was surprised by the "irresponsible" remarks of Russian officials who have claimed a Western company had supplied uranium enrichment equipment to the Islamic Republic, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"The nuclear activities of the Islamic Republic are indigenous and Iran uses its own know-how and possibilities (to build a complete nuclear energy cycle)," he said.

Asefi also reiterated that "nuclear activities of the Islamic Republic are very transparent and intended for peaceful purposes".

The official was apparently reacting to Russian officials' recent claims, including those of Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev, who was reported Wednesday as saying that US "is always criticizing us, but its close economic partners supply Iran with sensitive technology".

Rumyantsev was referring to media reports that an Iranian gas centrifuge, a sophisticated apparatus able to enrich uranium for both power stations and weapons, was made by Western companies.

"The spiteful reports published in recent days in some circles as well as the media serve the ominous objectives of the Zionist (Israeli) regime and are intended to deviate the public opinion," Asefi said.

A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month inspected the gas centrifuge in central Natanz, and Rumyantsev said Iran's cooperation with the IAEA showed it was not secretly developing nuclear weapons.

"Iran is now within the framework of IAEA laws," he said.

Washington has whipped up its anti-Iran rhetoric after President Mohammad Khatami made public Tehran's plans for a complete nuclear fuel cycle.

The announcement came shortly after US officials were cited late last year as alleging that American satellites had spotted two sites in Arak and Natanz which suggested they could be used for making nuclear weapons.

Washington suspects Tehran's ambitions, arguing, "Iran's costly pursuit of a complete nuclear fuel cycle only makes sense if it's in support of a nuclear weapons program."

US says Iran's nuclear programs, while the country sits on some of the biggest oil and gas reserves of the world, are questionable.

Iran says it wants the programs as part of the country's bid to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity to cope with the rising energy demand in the 65-million-nation in the next 20 years, while its gas and oil reserves are becoming overstretched.

... Payvand News - 3/27/03 ... --

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