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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Iran blames US for nuclear pressure

By Jim Muir
BBC correspondent in Tehran

Iranian students give the victory sign during a demonstration in Tehran
The US has encouraged pro-democracy protesters in Iran

Iran has already made it clear it does not intend to accede to the International Atomic Energy Agency's call for it to sign an additional protocol that would allow tougher international inspections without conditions.

Tehran is seeing the highly politicised atmosphere surrounding the IAEA's report as part and parcel of a broader hostile American campaign against the Islamic republic.

The IAEA's report, and the position taken by the agency, may have given Washington at least part of what it wanted, but it was also not as bad as Iran might have feared.

Iranian officials point out that the word violation was not used in the report.

It talked of failures, which it acknowledged Tehran was taking steps to rectify.

Hostile campaign

The agency also called on Iran to continue to be transparent in its nuclear activities, confirming that it has already been co-operating.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei
The IAEA's call will increase pressure on Iran to accept the protocol

Tehran has said that co-operation will continue, but so far it has also made it clear that it will not comply with the call for it to accept without conditions the additional protocol which would allow tougher unrestricted inspections.

The IAEA says only this acceptance would enable it to certify credibly that Iran's nuclear activities are as innocent as it claims.

Iranian officials say they are willing to sign the protocol, but only provided they are given access to the peaceful nuclear technology they say they are entitled to under the treaty, something the Americans would not allow.

For Iran, the pressure it is facing over the nuclear issue is just the latest focus of a hostile campaign which it sees being mounted against it by Washington and that may make it even more unlikely that it will back down.

Other elements include accusations that Iran has been harbouring al-Qaeda suspects and that it has been meddling in neighbouring Iraq.

The Americans have also openly encouraged the current wave of unrest in Iran by critics of the Islamic regime.

Nonetheless, the IAEA's call and support for it from the European Union as well as from the US will undoubtedly increase the pressure on Iran to accept that protocol and open up full access to its nuclear facilities.


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