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Iran is firm on peaceful use of nuclear energy, official tells UN

Vienna, May 7, IRNA -- Iran's nuclear energy chief here Tuesday presented an exhaustive sketch of the country's nuclear program, reiterating that Tehran was firm in its resolve to make peaceful use of nuclear know-how in the face of western propaganda hype.

The head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Gholamreza Aqazadeh, told UN diplomats that there was nothing to conceal about Iran's complete nuclear fuel cycle since it was aimed at generating power and not producing nuclear arms as claimed by Washington.

The official's statements were reinforced by those of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s Director General, Mohammad ElBaradei, who according to the BBC on Tuesday, praised Iran for cooperating with the agency.

ElBaradei, who toured Iran's nuclear facilities in February, is due to report to IAEA's board of governors next month on whether the Islamic Republic complied with non-proliferation commitments.

Iran is among signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) safeguards agreement. The country signed the comprehensive NPT agreement in 1973, accepting to open its nuclear facilities to regular inspections of the IAEA.

UN nuclear energy watchdog as well as the European Union, which has been holding comprehensive dialogue with the Islamic Republic, have urged Tehran to sign the so-called Additional Protocol with the IAEA, which allows the agency to carry out inspection without prior notice.

Aqazadeh said "We have no problem to accept this protocol and look at it positively but Iran is not intending to implement its requirements without any preconditions".

Tehran says that the IAEA had failed to fulfill its commitments to Iran according to the NPT agreement, since the country was still being refused to have access to nuclear technology.

"Iran, because of the unnecessary restrictions imposed, has not managed yet to take delivery of 100 tons of enriched uranium and 390 tons of depleted uranium from Germany for use at the Bushehr plant (in southern Iran)," Aqazadeh said.

The construction of the Bushehr plant started in 1975 by Germany's Siemens, but the company pulled out of the contract apparently under the US pressure following the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Russia resumed building the plant in 1995 after clinching a 800-million-dollar deal.

The first plant is expected to come on stream most probably during the first half of 2004, officials have said.

Washington alleges that Russian assistance to the construction of the Bushehr plant could enable Iran to build a nuclear weapon, a claim which both Tehran and Moscow deny.

Aqazadeh reiterated that Iran's nuclear plans were "peaceful, transparent and independent".

"Our government and nation, despite all the restrictions being imposed, are resolved to make peaceful use of nuclear know-how, given its wonderful effects in the scientific, economic and social fields and (its help to) sustainable development," he said.

Iran says it wants the program as part of the country's bid to generate 7,000 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.

Washington suspects Tehran's ambitions, arguing that "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, is questionable.

Aqazadeh refuted such arguments, saying "our country, because of having oil and gas reserves, cannot merely depend on fossilized fuels".

"The gas and oil limits, the high added-value of fossilized fuel, its consumption cost and the hefty cost spent by the government to produce oil and gas, have made the use of other energy resources, including nuclear energy, necessary," he said.

"If the status quo is maintained in using energy components, Iran will turn into one of the importers of crude oil and its products in the upcoming decades," the official added.

The economic value of 7,000 megawatts of electricity, which Iran bids to produce through nuclear fission in the next 20 years, is estimated at five billion dollars per year, Aqazadeh said.

"In terms of sociology and ecology, this will prevent from the production of 157,000 tons of carbon dioxides, 10,150 tons of suspended particles in the air, 130 tons of sulfur and 50 tons of nitrogen oxides," he added.

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.

Aqazadeh brushed aside those claims, saying they were "illogical and vain", since "Arak facilities are intended for producing heavy water and this does not involve the NPT safeguards agreement, thus we are not bound by any legal requirement to declare them".

"Given the giant size of installations and variety of distillation towers in Arak plant (which is monitored) by cameras ... (the claim on the) clandestine nature of the plant could have no logical basis," he said.

The official said Iran invited UN teams without putting any preconditions to inspect centrifuges in Natanz in September 2002.

"At present, more than 12 countries enrich uranium. Can one say they seek to build nuclear arms?," Aqazadeh said, adding Iran wanted to produce a five-percent uranium which was graded far below the one used in making an atomic bomb.

The IAEO's chief renewed Iran's rejection of US claims that the Islamic Republic sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction as he turned the tables on Washington for using the first atomic bomb in the World War II.

"Who dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Who used depleted uranium in the Balkans war as well as the first and second Persian Gulf wars in Iraq?" he asked.

"Some analysts believe that Iran, because of being neighbor to countries which have nuclear arms, has to equip itself with such arms in order to guarantee its security. However, we believe that Iran's security will not be secured by producing nuclear weapons," Aqazadeh said.

... Payvand News - 5/7/03 ... --

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