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Iran Rejects New Demands To Curb Nuclear Program

12 June 2004 -- Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said today that Iran has rejected new international demands to curb its nuclear program.

Kharrazi told a news conference today that Iran will continue operations at a uranium-processing plant near Isfahan. He also said Iran will go ahead with plans to build a heavy-water reactor in Arak.

Demands to halt both activities were included in a draft resolution written this week by Britain, Germany, and France and due to be debated on 14 June at a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"We will not accept any new obligation, and the Europeans should fulfill their commitment if they want cooperation to continue. If this fails, this will be failure for all -- Iran, Europe and the [IAEA]," he said.

Kharrazi repeated Iran's assertion that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful use. He also urged the IAEA's European board members to resist pressure from the United States, which says Tehran is using its nuclear program as a smokescreen for building an atomic bomb.

"If Europe, under pressure from the United States, wants to concentrate on minor issues at the meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency on [14 June] and tries to obstruct the existing cooperation between Iran and the agency, it will just show they are not able to operate independently," Kharrazi said.

Leaders at the Group of Eight (G-8) summit in the United States this week voiced concern at Iran's nuclear plans and called on Tehran to disclose all details of its nuclear programs to the IAEA.

If Iran cannot resolve its nuclear wrangle with the IAEA, it faces referral to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions.

In other comments, Kharrazi said today Iran is giving Saudi Arabia information on members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network it has detained. Kharrazi did not say how many Al-Qaeda agents are in Iranian jails. But he said their arrests show Iran has made "a very serious step in the fight against terrorism."

(compiled from wire reports)