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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 September, 2003, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Iran reviews nuclear relations
Hamid Reza Asefi
Asefi: The IAEA has been abused by America
Iran has said it is reviewing its relationship with the United Nations' nuclear watchdog after it set a deadline for Iran to prove it is not seeking nuclear weapons.

The Iranian foreign ministry condemned what it called the agency's "very bad action", which it said was politically motivated.

The IAEA gave Iran until 31 October to disclose its nuclear activities to the board's satisfaction, failing which the issue could be handed over to the UN Security Council to deal with.

Iran has denied it is pursuing a secret nuclear programme and says its nuclear facilities are for peaceful purposes only.

The issue assumed added urgency in February this year after Iran revealed it had more nuclear facilities than previously thought.

Treaty under threat

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters: "The nature of our co-operation with the IAEA is under consideration. The relevant authorities are discussing that and our decision will be made public in the future."

[Iran must provide] a full declaration of the sources and types of all imported material and components relevant to the enrichment programme
IAEA resolution

Mr Asefi said the IAEA had been "abused" by the United States, which he said "wanted to deprive Iran of its natural right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes".

He said Japan, Australia and Canada, who jointly sponsored the IAEA resolution, had "made a big mistake" and Iran would respond diplomatically.

Iranian media and conservative officials have urged Iran to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) following the IAEA's decision.

The BBC's Tehran correspondent, Jim Muir, says just what action Iran will take on the IAEA's deadline remains the subject of intense behind-the-scenes debate.

He says that although right-wingers are clamouring for a harsh response, Iran's representative at the IAEA, Akbar Salehi, is quoted here as saying that co-operation will continue, but perhaps at restricted levels.

Russian pressure

Russia, which is building Iran's first nuclear power reactor at the port of Bushehr, has urged Iran to co-operate with the IAEA.

Find out more about key nuclear sites in Iran

Correspondents say Moscow has come under intense pressure from the US to drop the project because of fears that Tehran may use spent fuel from the plant to develop nuclear weapons.

For its part, Washington has warned that Iran's failure to work with the IAEA programme will constitute proof that it is pursuing a secret weapons programme.

In February, the head of Iran's atomic energy agency said construction had begun on a plant that would produce enriched uranium, a potential ingredient of nuclear weapons.

The BBC's Jacky Rowland
"The Americans pushed for the resolution"

Iranian media reject nuclear ultimatum
13 Sep 03  |  Middle East

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