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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 June, 2003, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
Iran promises nuclear co-operation
Golamreza Aghazadeh, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran
Iran's nuclear programme is a source of pride for most Iranians
Iran has pledged to do more to reassure the UN over its nuclear programme but ruled out inspections at a disputed facility in Tehran.

Golamreza Aghazadeh, head of the country's atomic energy programme, told reporters that Iran wished to dispel doubts about the civilian nature of its projects by working more with the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"We will definitely try to co-operate more than before with the IAEA and give them the necessary assurances about Iran's activities," he said.

But earlier on Saturday he ruled out permitting IAEA inspectors taking samples from Tehran's Kalaye Electric Company, which he insisted had no role in the nuclear programme.

"We will not allow it," he said. "This request is illegal and unacceptable. These installations are completely non-nuclear and are not affected by IAEA inspections."

Enrichment fears

The IAEA on Thursday called on Iran to allow stricter inspections of its facilities unconditionally.

Find out more about key nuclear sites in Iran

It wants inspectors to be granted permission to take samples of water, earth and air at sites suspected of being used to enrich uranium - an activity more related to the production of nuclear weapons.

Mr Aghazadeh said he was hopeful that agreement could be reached on the IAEA's demand for more intrusive inspections at short notice.

Washington has warned that it will not tolerate Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and has added to the pressure on its clerical leaders by welcoming recent student unrest against the authorities.

Russia undeterred

A Russian spokesman said on Saturday he saw no reason why Moscow should end its partnership with Iran to produce nuclear power.

He said that the IAEA had not announced any sanctions when it met to discus the issue in Vienna last week.

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"Since the IAEA issued no reproach, there is no reason to put an end to our co-operation," foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko told the French news agency AFP in Moscow.

Russia has courted controversy with the US by selling nuclear technology to Iran with the contract for a reactor in the south-western port of Bushehr worth $800m.

President Vladimir Putin insisted on Friday that Iran had no plans to develop nuclear weapons. He cited assurances given by his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Khatami, in a telephone conversation this week.

"The Iranian leadership is ready to fully meet all the IAEA's demands regarding control over its nuclear programme," Mr Putin told journalists.

But the IAEA accuses Iran of failing, after initial good co-operation, to report all of its nuclear activities.

Nuclear experts have questioned the declared need of Iran - a country with vast oil and natural gas reserves - to produce nuclear energy.

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