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Last Updated: Monday, 1 November, 2004, 18:28 GMT
Iran students in nuclear protest

By Frances Harrison
BBC correspondent in Tehran

Human chain around the Atomic Energy Organisation
Protesters formed a human chain around the Atomic Energy Organisation building
Hundreds of university students have demonstrated in Tehran in favour of its nuclear technology programmes.

The students, who were brought in by bus, formed a human chain around the Atomic Energy Organisation.

The protest follows a vote on Sunday in the parliament asking the government to pursue peaceful nuclear technology, including mastering the fuel cycle.

Students chanted, "Death to America" and "Death to England" as they gathered to listen to speeches and poems.

"We will never compromise or surrender, we will fight with the United States," they say.

Women in black chador, with colourful headbands bearing Islamic inscriptions on top and young, bearded men raised their fists and paraded up the road before holding hands in a human chain.

'Iran's rights'

There was much talk of martyrdom and sacrifice but 20-year-old electrical engineering student Fatima said she just wanted a solution that recognised Iran's right to nuclear power.

"Today all the students, the university students, we are here to tell the world that we don't need the nuclear power for war," she said.

"Our purpose is just peace and we just want to assure you that here we are just for peace and we don't war and we are against any war and we want peace."

The legislation being proposed in the Iranian parliament, which has no time-frame, appears designed to strengthen the hands of Iranian negotiators due to meet their European counterparts on Friday for talks on the nuclear issue.

Europe wants Iran to suspend all its enrichment activities.

Now Teheran can say its hands are tied by parliament, not to mention public opinion, which sees the acquisition of nuclear technology as an issue of national pride irrespective of political differences.

The timing of the announcement was no coincidence

Washington PostIran Agrees to Consider E.U. Offer on Nuclear Program - 3 hrs ago
New York Times Iran's Nuclear Threat - 8 hrs ago
Irish TimesTehran remains non-committal on EU nuclear energy offer - 9 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Nuclear options - 10 hrs ago
ABCNEWS.com Iran Unlikely to Make Nuclear Concessions - 13 hrs ago
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