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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 January 2006, 12:01 GMT
Iran 'does not need nuclear arms'
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that his country does not need a nuclear weapon.

At a news conference in Tehran, Mr Ahmadinejad said they were needed only by people who "want to solve everything through the use of force".

His comments come amid international condemnation of Tehran's move to restart its nuclear research.

Iran says it has a right to peaceful nuclear technology and denies claims it is covertly seeking to develop weapons.

The US, UK, France and Germany are threatening to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, but Mr Ahmadinejad has dismissed the prospect.

Tehran has said it will stop snap inspections of nuclear sites if its case is sent to the UN, which could impose sanctions.

The crisis intensified this week when Iran removed seals at three nuclear facilities, ending a two-year freeze.

Diplomatic divisions

Western countries are now seeking to persuade other members of UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to agree to refer Iran to the Council.

European, Russian, Chinese and US officials are due to meet in London on Monday, when they are expected to set a date for the crucial IAEA meeting.

IRAN'S NUCLEAR STANDOFF
Sept 2002: Work begins on Iran's first reactor at Bushehr
Dec 2002: Satellites reveal Arak and Natanz sites, triggering IAEA inspections
Nov 2003: Iran suspends uranium enrichment and allows tougher inspections
June 2004: IAEA rebukes Iran for not fully co-operating
Nov 2004: Iran suspends enrichment under deal with EU
Aug 2005: Iran rejects EU plan and re-opens Isfahan plant
Jan 2006: Iran re-opens Natanz facility

On Friday, US President George W Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed that the crisis should be resolved through peaceful means.

But in a sign of divisions over how to proceed, China's UN ambassador Wang Guangya warned that referring Iran to the Security Council "might complicate the issue".

Russia has not ruled out a referral, but says that not all diplomatic steps have been taken.

Washington, Israel and many European powers distrust Iran, partly because it had kept its nuclear research secret for 18 years before it was revealed in 2002.

Mr Ahmadinejad has also sparked international outrage with his hardline stance towards Israel, following his election last June.

He has said Israel should be "wiped off the map" and called the Nazi Holocaust of European Jewry a "myth".

Since last August, Iran has resumed all nuclear activity apart from enrichment, which can produce fuel for power stations or, under certain conditions, for bombs.

Tehran has always said it has the right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - which it has signed - to research nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.




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