Iran says making nuclear bombs a "great sin" (REUTERS) By Caroline Copley GENEVA, SWITZERLAND 02/28/12 12:47pm EST)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - Iran, facing growing international pressure over its
nuclear program, called for more talks with the U.N. nuclear watchdog
on Tuesday and condemned production of atomic weapons as a "great
Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful but negotiations with the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have stalled and Western
powers have grown increasingly concerned over the possible military
dimensions of Tehran´s atomic work.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, in a speech to the U.N.-
sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, said he expected talks
to continue and that he was optimistic they would proceed in the
"I would like to re-emphasize that we do not see any glory, pride or
power in the nuclear weapons, quite the opposite based on the
religious decree issued by our supreme leader, the production,
possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, are
illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great
sin," he said.
However many in the Western camp were skeptical, with the IAEA saying
no further talks were scheduled, given what Western diplomats have
described as Iran´s unwillingness to address allegations of military
A report by the IAEA last week said Iran was significantly stepping
up its uranium enrichment, a finding that sent oil prices higher on
fears tensions between Tehran and the West could escalate into
Israel has threatened to launch strikes to prevent Iran getting the
bomb, saying Tehran´s continued technological progress means it could
soon pass into a "zone of immunity."
In high-level meetings between the IAEA and Iran, held in Tehran in
January and February, Iranian officials stuck to a refusal to address
intelligence reports about covert research relevant to developing
nuclear weapons, Western diplomats say.
Salehi, addressing reporters in Geneva, said Iran expected
the "dialogue that has started" with the IAEA would continue.
"There was some disagreement on drafting an initial framework that
would set the ground for a new roadmap as how to proceed," Salehi
said. "We are optimistic that upcoming meetings...will be proceeding
hopefully in the right direction."
"FAILURE TO COMPLY"
Laura Kennedy, U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament,
rejected Salehi´s comments, saying they stood in "stark contrast to
Iran´s failure to comply with its international obligations"
regarding its nuclear program.
"Indeed, Iran has moved in the opposite direction by expanding its
capacity to enrich uranium to nearly 20 percent and continues to move
forward with proscribed enrichment and heavy-water related
activities, all in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council
resolutions," Kennedy told the talks.
Kennedy said that Iran´s "persistent stonewalling" of the IAEA´s
investigation into possible military dimensions to its nuclear
program was "very troubling."
In Vienna, where the IAEA is based, one envoy said the lack of
progress in getting Tehran to start responding to the suspicions was
a clear indication that it is "not serious at all in entering any
Another Vienna-based official familiar with the issue said the IAEA
team had asked for Iran´s initial position on issues raised by the
U.N. agency in a detailed November report that pointed to a possible
covert nuclear weapons agenda in Iran.
There were sixty-five paragraphs in the IAEA´s report and the Iranian
side responded with "sixty-five no´s," the official said, making
clear that Iran had rejected all information indicating illicit
attempts to design a nuclear bomb.
In Geneva, Salehi accused the West of double standards for backing
Iran´s arch-enemy Israel, the only Middle East state outside the
nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and believed to be have the
only nuclear arsenal in the region.
"We have clearly stated time and time again there are two
alternatives in dealing with the Iranian peaceful nuclear program.
One way is engagement, cooperation and interaction. The other is
confrontation and conflict," Salehi said.
"Iran is confident of the peaceful nature of its program and has
always insisted on the first alternative. When it comes to our
relevant rights and obligations, our consistent position is that Iran
does not seek confrontation, nor does it want anything beyond its
inalienable, legitimate rights."
(Additional reporting by Vincent Fribault and Stephanie Nebehay in
Geneva and Fredrik Dahl in Vienna; Editing by Maria Golovnina) (©
Thomson Reuters 2012. 02/28/12)
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