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Iran plays down US "mud-slinging" ahead of IAEA board meeting

Tehran, Aug 29, IRNA -- Iran Sunday put a brave face ahead of an IAEA board of governors' meeting in Vienna, saying it was confident the country's nuclear dossier would not make a case for examination at the UN Security Council.

Tehran is bracing for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)' report, due to be released at a September 13 meeting of the agency's board of governors.

"We don't think the (International Atomic Energy) Agency`s report will be such that it gives a pretext for referral of Iran's file to the Security Council," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news briefing.

The official said most outstanding questions about Iran's nuclear program had been resolved, but the Americans were sure to come ahead with new 'peripheral issues`.

"Experience has shown that America raises up one peripheral issue each time ahead of the meeting, like the previous meeting where they raised up the 'Shiyan` issue," he said, referring to US allegations that Iran had razed an alleged nuclear site in Lavisan near Tehran to remove evidence.

Asefi said Iran has allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the site and take samples.

The report, being written by IAEA Director General Mohammad ElBaradei, will review the agency's progress in clearing up questions about Iran's nuclear activities.

Earlier this month, diplomats familiar with Iran's nuclear dossier, were reported in Vienna as saying that new findings on Iran by the UN atomic agency appeared to strengthen Tehran's claim it has no enriched uranium domestically.

They said reported findings could hurt renewed US hopes that its allegations could translate into support for referral of Iran to the UN Security Council.

Most suspicions focus on the sources of traces of enriched uranium and the extent and nature of work on the advanced P-2 centrifuge, used to enrich uranium.

According to diplomats in Vienna, the IAEA's new findings bolster Tehran's assertion that all traces of enriched particles found in Iran were inadvertently imported on contaminated equipment it bought on the black market.

Asefi said, "With the clarification of the issues such as P-2 and uranium enrichment as well as contamination of components and other marginal issues, all ambiguities have been answered."

"If the Americans do not bring forth a new marginal issue, there is no reason for Iran's nuclear file not to be put on a normal course," the Foreign Ministry spokesman added.

"If what has come to pass between us and the agency is carefully reviewed, it will become evident that our cooperation with the agency has made a good progress. In the same breath, the agency's report must show progress," he said.

In what has been described as a confidence-building measure, Tehran has voluntarily suspended uranium enrichment and manufacture of centrifuge components.

Moreover, the Islamic Republic has signed an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), allowing snap inspections of its nuclear activities.

Asefi turned the tables on French President Jacques Chirac who has reiterated the need for confidence-building on Iran's side.

"We assure Chirac and others that we want confidence-building, but in this process, our right of access to peaceful nuclear technology must be respected," he said.

Iran says its nuclear program is in accordance with the country's bid to produce 7,000 megawatts of electricity in the next 20 years, when the country's oil and gas reserves become overstretched.

The country has cooperated closely with the European 'big three` -- Germany, France and Britain -- to answer outstanding questions about the country's nuclear program.

Asefi said, "America has always made illogical demands, but we are not worried and we will not give up our legitimate right of having access to peaceful nuclear technology."

... Payvand News - 8/29/04 ... --

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