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Last Updated: Monday, 2 June, 2003, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Iran stands firm on nuclear plans

By Jim Muir
BBC correspondent in Tehran

Image of Iranian leaders on a Tehran street
Iran wants sanctions dropped before it signs any agreement
Despite mounting pressure over its nuclear programme, Iran has again refused to sign an international agreement that would allow tougher inspections.

But Iran has invited the United States to join in building nuclear reactors for peaceful energy purposes in Iran - an offer already rejected by the Americans.

On Sunday, Russia - Iran's main partner in its nuclear power programme - added its voice to those calling on Tehran to sign an additional protocol to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

That would permit tougher international inspections, giving the Iranians a chance to prove they are not trying to produce nuclear weapons.

But at a news conference in Tehran, the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Hamid-Reza Asefi, repeated Iran's position on the issue.

He said they would not sign any new protocols until international sanctions are dropped and Iran is given the technology for peaceful atomic energy it says it should be allowed under the non-proliferation treaty it has already signed.


Mr Asefi went on the counter-offensive, challenging the Americans to join in and help build Iran's nuclear power stations, if they really are concerned about Iranian intentions.

That idea has already been suggested by Russia's atomic energy minister.

US President George W Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg
Bush and Putin discussed Iran's nuclear plans

But the offer was shot down immediately by American officials.

They said no country should be helping Iran in this field.

After President Bush's summit with Mr Putin in St Petersburg, Iran apparently remains confident that the Russians will stick to their commitments to finish building the nuclear reactor at Bushehr - the facility at the centre of American concerns.

But the pressure on Iran may mount further in two weeks time, when the International Atomic Energy Agency presents its report on the inspections it has been carrying out on Iranian nuclear facilities.

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