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Last Updated: Friday, 24 September, 2004, 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK
Iran adamant on nuclear programme
By Jill McGivering
BBC correspondent in New York

Preliminary installation of a turbo generator at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant
Iran denies it wants to build nuclear weapons
Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi has defended his country's right to pursue nuclear technology.

In a robust speech at the UN General Assembly, Mr Kharrazi insisted it was only for peaceful purposes.

That claim is hotly disputed by many in the international community, most vocally by the United States.

It accuses Iran of pursuing a nuclear-weapons programme and wants the case to be referred to the United Nations Security Council.

Regional concerns

Mr Kharrazi went on to accuse Israel of being the main regional and global threat to peace, citing its nuclear weapons capability and what he called its record of aggression. Israel neither confirms nor denies nuclear capability.

Mr Kharrazi also focused on Iraq.

Many in Iran were joyous, he said, to see Saddam Hussein behind bars - although even so, there was concern in Iran about the use of force without the approval of the UN.

He called for free and fair elections in Iraq and condemned all acts of terrorism and violence there.

That is likely to be welcomed by both Iraqi and American officials, who have expressed concern about possible Iranian interference, especially in the south of the country, and warned Tehran not to exploit the current chaos by trying to extend its influence.

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