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Iran's FM says production of nuclear fuel is 'strictly peaceful'

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi hailed Sunday production of nuclear fuel by Iran as an 'important achievement' but stressed that it was 'strictly' intended for peaceful purposes, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"This industry is strictly not for non-peaceful use and will be under the careful supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency," he told reporters here on his return from a Kuwait summit.

The statements came shortly after Kharrazi announced that Iran has the capacity to produce nuclear fuel and offer it to international markets.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has made an important achievement in the area of nuclear fuel -- that is the technology of enrichment for meeting fuel requirements of domestic plants as well as for peaceful usage," Kharrazi said.

"This is an industry which can both be used by our plants and supplied to the international markets," he added.

The Iranian foreign minister also said, "We have taken a voluntary decision for confidence building and postponed (uranium) enrichment, but this does not mean that we will give up this industry, which is our national pride."

Kharrazi, however, stressed Tehran's intention to 'act within the frameworks which are discussed with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) so that its supervision is fulfilled'.

"At present, this idea has been floated in (IAEA chief) Mr. Mohamed ElBaradei's remarks and plans to create an international framework so that those countries which have the capacity (to produce) nuclear fuel offer it to international markets," he said.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has also this capacity and regards it as legitimate. There in no legal problem about that and no one can deprive us of this natural, legal and legitimate right.

"This indicates the Islamic Republic's capacity and readiness for cooperation within the international frameworks," Kharrazi added.

The Iranian foreign minister dismissed US officials' statements including their intention to renew Washington's drive to report Tehran to the UN Security Council.

"Americans want to influence the upcoming IAEA meeting, but we are ready to cooperate transparently and answer all questions and while the supervision are carried out carefully, there is no need for worries," he said.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Friday repeated Washington's accusations that Iran continued to pursue nuclear weapons.

Tehran says its nuclear efforts are 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 Islamic Republic voluntarily suspended uranium enrichment following the visit of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and his French and German counterparts Dominique de Villepin and Joschka Fischer to Tehran, which also led Iran agreeing to sign an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty late last year.

... Payvand News - 2/15/04 ... --

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