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Iran rejects US report, pledges cooperation over military sites

Tehran, Dec 5, IRNA -- Iran brushed aside Sunday a US report that UN inspectors had sought to access two alleged secret military sites, and vowed to cooperate with the world nuclear watchdog to disprove 'the Americans' false claim'.

The New York Times alleged Thursday that UN inspectors had sought access to the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran, and Lavizan II, in the northeast of the capital.

Speaking at his weekly news briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said, "Lavizan was inspected by the inspectors once and the false claim of the Americans surfaced.

"As for other centers such as Parchin, we are ready to cooperate within the framework of our commitments and agreements with the International Atomic Energy) Agency."

Asked whether Tehran will allow IAEA inspectors, if requested by the agency, access to military sites, Asefi said, "We will act according to the NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) and in accordance with our commitments and responsibilities."

Under the Additional Protocol to the NPT, signed by Iran, Tehran has agreed to permit short-notice inspections of its nuclear facilities.

Iran, however, is not under any obligation to provide 'unrestricted access' to its military sites, according to an agreement reached recently with the agency on suspension of uranium enrichment activities.

Tehran insists that its nuclear program is solely aimed at power generation and strongly rejects US claims that the program is a front to build atomic bombs.

The New York Times claimed Thursday that the nuclear watchdog had acquired satellite photographs, which allegedly indicated the testing of high explosives in Parchin and Lavizan II as well as procurement records showing the purchase of equipment that can be used for enriching uranium.

Talking to IRNA in Vienna Friday, IAEA spokeswoman Mellissa Fleming rejected allegation that the agency or its director general Mohamed ElBaradei had ever requested to get access to the two military sites.

Weapons experts quoted by the Times, however, cautioned that Iran's equipment purchases and other activities at the two sites could have non-nuclear purposes.

They said the equipment is 'dual use' meaning it could be used for both civilian and military purposes.

An unnamed Iranian official who spoke with The New York Times dismissed the idea of opening up the military sites, saying Iran was not under any obligation to do so. "There is nothing required for us to do so," he said.

"They should have evidence that there are nuclear activities, not just 'We heard from someone that there is dual-use equipment that we want to see'," the official added.

Iran and Europeans are fresh from an agreement under which Tehran accepted to suspend all its uranium enrichment activities, sparing a likely showdown.

Asefi said, "The Americans did not imagine the fate of Iran's dossier could be resolved in such a way and Iran and the Europeans could settle the crisis through negotiations.

"One reason is that the American media announced that they were defeated and the United States was left helpless."

The deal came on the back of strenuous negotiations between Iran and Britain, Germany and France after Tehran demanded that 20 of its centrifuges be excluded from its promised suspension of uranium enrichment for research and development.

Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, however, warned the Europeans to honor their commitments towards Iran or see the agreement go down the gutter.

"We hope the Europeans will deliver on their commitments; otherwise it is likely that the results (of the agreement) will be spoilt," the official, who has not ruled out standing in the next presidential race, told Spain's new ambassador to Tehran in a meeting.

Rafsanjani, the chairman of the arbitrative Expediency Council, described Iran's agreement to suspend uranium enrichment as a 'very hard' decision for the establishment.

"Despite this, the establishment accepted this in order to give confidence-building a chance.

"Given Iran's very serious and appropriate cooperation, the (International Atomic Energy) Agency and the European Union, must now have become convinced that Iran has no nuclear military intentions," he added.

On Friday, Rafsanjani said that Iran would resume enriching uranium after a maximum of six months, reaffirming Tehran's position that Tehran's freeze on nuclear fuel cycle work is only temporary.

"The Islamic Republic has agreed to suspend enrichment activities for a maximum six-month period to assure the IAEA that Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful," he said.

Asked to comment on the remarks, Foreign Ministry spokesman Asefi said that Mr. Rafsanjani mentioned the six months only as an 'example'.

... Payvand News - 12/5/04 ... --

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