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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 September, 2003, 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK
Iran sticks by nuclear programme
Satellite image of nuclear power reactor in Bushehr, Iran. Photo: Digitalglobe
Tehran says its nuclear programme is for energy
Iran has ruled out giving up its uranium enrichment programme, ahead of this week's visit by nuclear inspectors.

"Abandoning nuclear activities or enrichment is not something that Iran is ready to compromise on," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news conference.

Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had demanded in a resolution that Iran cease all uranium enrichment.

The agency has given Iran until the end of October to provide evidence that it is not trying to produce nuclear weapons.

More talks

But Tehran insists all its nuclear activity is geared to producing enough electricity from atomic power to meet growing demand and denies it is developing nuclear weapons.

A delegation from the IAEA is to due to arrive on Thursday for further talks on its nuclear programme, Iranian officials said.

Find out more about key nuclear sites in Iran

The visit had been planned to take place nearly a week earlier but was postponed at Iran's request.

The agency is seeking answers on questions such as how highly-enriched uranium particles came to be found in at least one Iranian facility.

The delay of nearly a week, made at Iran's request, was almost certainly because Iranian leaders had yet to decide what line to take in the wake of the IAEA resolution and its deadline, our correspondent in Tehran Jim Muir says.

Many prominent hardliners have been arguing that Iran should pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty altogether.

Moderate voices have urged compliance, although nobody wants Iran to be seen to be bowing to American pressures, he adds.

The US and Russian presidents, speaking after a Camp David summit on Saturday, urged Iran to step up its co-operation with the IAEA.

Co-operation

The IAEA team which arrives on Thursday is composed of high-ranking agency officials who will be talking with Iranian leaders to assess whether the required co-operation will be forthcoming.

If all goes well, a team of technical experts, especially in the field of uranium enrichment, will follow to start work on the ground.

Iranian officials have said they will co-operate with the agency but say they will not give in to pressure, particularly on signing an additional protocol which would allow tough, unannounced inspections.

The agency has said the protocol itself if not a top priority but that practical co-operation and answering questions is more important.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Peter Greste
"Iran has repeatedly said it has no desire to build nuclear weapons"



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