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Last Updated: Monday, 1 September, 2003, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Iran attacks nuclear 'pressure'
Satellite image of nuclear power reactor in Bushehr, Iran. Photo: Digitalglobe
Tehran denies it has a nuclear weapons programme
The UN nuclear watchdog should not let other countries pressure Tehran over signing up to tougher nuclear inspections, an Iranian official has said.

The warning came as Iran prepared to negotiate the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that would allow snap inspections of its nuclear facilities.

The United States says these are part of a nuclear weapons programme denied by Tehran.

But Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said: "Some countries are about to exert pressure and the [International Atomic Energy] Agency (IAEA) should not let it happen.

ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL
Allows for inspections at short notice
IAEA can take environmental samples at any location

"If the other side shows good will and if the other side has honesty, I don't think it [the Additional Protocol] is an issue that cannot be solved," Reuters quoted the spokesman as saying.

A leaked report earlier this week revealed the IAEA's unease at finding traces of highly-enriched uranium at the Natanz nuclear facility.

Enriching uranium is a way of purifying it so it can be used in nuclear fuel or in weapons.

Report due

Iran has said it wants clarifications about some sovereignty aspects in the protocol, a move analysts have said could create delays in signing up to more intrusive checks.

The European Union has given Iranian leaders a stern warning to accept snap inspections of its nuclear programme.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran says if progress is not made soon on those and other issues, some EU member countries have made it clear that negotiations towards a trade and co-operation agreement with Iran will go on hold.

An IAEA report on Iran will be presented to the agency's board of governors in Vienna on 8 September.

Were Iran to be found in breach of its commitments the matter could be referred to the UN Security Council.




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