Brushing aside U.S. criticism, Iranian President Mohammed Khatami pledged Tuesday to forge ahead in building Iran's nuclear power plant.
But he said Iran didn't want nuclear arms, and would prove its sincerity by sending the plant's spent fuel rods �� a potential source of fissionable material �� abroad for reprocessing.
"We have no problem with sending the nuclear waste and uranium waste to other countries," Khatami said on his first visit to Pakistan. "We are not insisting on keeping them in Iran, where they could also pose an environmental problem."
Khatami made the promise at a news conference with Pakistani Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali in Islamabad, where he urged critics to focus on Israel's reported nuclear arsenal, rather than on recently emerged nuclear powers like Pakistan.
Israel has never acknowledged to possessing nuclear weapons.
Iranian officials insist the nation's nuclear facilities are used only to generate power, even though Iran canceled a U.N. inspection of two sites in mid-December. Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, is scheduled to visit Iran in February.
The U.S. government has strongly criticized the plant at Bushehr in southern Iran, saying it could advance Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program.
On Tuesday, Khatami seemed eager to assuage Western concerns about the plant, being built with Russian help.
"We are very happy that we are going to have that nuclear power plant in Iran, and we are going to develop it for energy and peaceful purposes, I repeat, peaceful purposes," he said.