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Iran calls for return of nuclear issue to IAEA
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12:08, February 24, 2008

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Iran on Saturday called for a return of the country's nuclear issue from the UN Security Council to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), one day after the agency's chief circulated his latest report on Iran's nuclear program.

What was said in the report once more indicated that "referring of Iran to the UN Security Council was a political move which lacked legal basis," the official IRNA news agency quoted government spokesman Gholam-Hossein Elham as saying.

He reiterated that Tehran believed "the only legitimate and official center to study Iran nuclear issue is the IAEA which has now verified the peaceful nature of Iran nuclear activities."

Elham made the remarks one day after IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei circulated his latest report on Iran's nuclear program to the IAEA Board of Governors.

In response to the IAEA report, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday that his country will not retreat "one iota" in maintaining its nuclear rights.

In his live interview with state television late on Saturday, Ahmadinejad vowed that "we've said that our red line is the nuclear rights of the Iranian nation and we will not retreat one iota."

Iran's nuclear program will continue and the UN Security Council could spend "100 years passing resolutions" against Tehran, he said.

The UN nuclear watchdog said on Friday that Iran had clarified the majority of open issues in its nuclear programs but the agency was still unable to give a definite verdict on Tehran's nuclear ambitions as the progress is not enough.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said later Friday that there is "a very strong case" for a third UN Security Council resolution on a possible sanction against Iran for its defiance over its nuclear program.

Criticizing Washington's attitude toward ElBaradei's report, Elham said, "As they have repeatedly showed in the past, they have no respect for the agency's report and disregard its technical and legal aspects."

Iran's First Vice President Parviz Davoodi also said on Saturday that keeping the case of Iran's nuclear program in the UN Security Council is not justifiable.

"International lawyers believed keeping the case of Iran nuclear program in the United Nations Security Council has no justification," IRNA quoted Davoodi as saying in Uroomieh, the capital city of Iran's northwestern province of West Azerbaijan.

The Iranian first vice president pointed out that "Iran's nuclear case should normally be returned to the IAEA regarding the report."

"Now the international community has found a positive view" toward the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear activities, he said, vowing that Iran would be able to continue its nuclear activities soon like other countries within the agency's framework.

Iran has completed the cycle of its nuclear fuel and answered all questions raised in this connection, Davoodi said, adding that IAEA inspectors "have made quite good progress in clarifying the outstanding issues that had to do with Iran's past nuclear activities."

Deputy head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Javad Vaeedi said on Saturday that the report by the UN atomic agency has proved that claims by the United States, France and Britain against Tehran have no foundation, reported the state-run Press TV channel.

"When the Action Plan was prepared six months ago, some accused Tehran of trying to buy time, but the Friday report showed that allegations of undercover nuclear activities were baseless," Vaeedi was quoted as saying.

"The most important result of the report is that it confirms Iran's nuclear program is peaceful," the Iranian official added.

After the publication of his report on Friday, ElBaradei said that "in the last four months, in particular, we have made quite good progress in clarifying the outstanding issues that had to do with Iran's past nuclear activities."

However, he noted that the progress is still not enough and the IAEA was still unable to give a definite verdict on Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

"Iran in the past few months has provided us with visits to many places, that enable us to have a clearer picture of Iran's current program. However, that is not, in my view, sufficient," ElBaradei said.

Western countries have accused Iran of using a civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons, a charge repeatedly denied by Tehran.

The UN Security Council has adopted two resolutions -- one in December 2006 and the other in March 2007 -- in attempts to force Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment activities and give up its nuclear programs.

France, Britain and Germany formally introduced to the UN Security Council Thursday a draft resolution that calls for further sanctions against Iran over its refusal to suspend sensitive nuclear enrichment activities.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- and Germany will meet in Washington on Monday on Iran's nuclear issue.

U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns confirmed Friday that officials from the six countries will discuss a proposed third UN Security Council resolution on Iran to punish its defiance over its nuclear programs.

The six countries have met for several times on the thorny issue but made no significant progress.

Iran has downplayed the effect of possible new sanctions, saying Tehran would show a "serious and logical reaction" if the UN Security Council issues a third resolution.

Source: Xinhua

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