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Iran Warns UN Nuclear Body Not To Bend To U.S. Pressure

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said Iran has cooperated with the IAEA.
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran has urged the UN's nuclear watchdog not to be swayed by U.S. pressure in its report on the disputed Iranian nuclear program due to be released.

The United States is leading efforts to isolate Iran over what Washington says is Tehran's covert bid to build nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying its plans are peaceful.

Diplomats last week told Reuters an inquiry by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into whether Iran covertly researched how to assemble an atomic bomb appeared to have stalled while Tehran expanded its sensitive uranium-enrichment work.

The diplomats said they expected this to be reflected in the IAEA report due out later on September 15, but said they did not have details about what the report in its final form would contain.

"So what we are expecting [from] the agency...[is] to conduct itself based on its own regulations and not to be affected by outside pressure, including U.S. pressure," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi told a news conference.

"We are fully expecting the IAEA to remain independent again, to confine its activities to recognized international laws and regulations," Qashqavi said in comments broadcast and translated by the state-run English satellite channel Press TV.

The IAEA said in May Iran seemed to be withholding information needed to explain intelligence allegations that it had fused projects to process uranium, test high explosives, and modify a missile cone in a way suitable for a nuclear warhead.

Tehran has dismissed the mainly U.S. intelligence on "weaponization" research as fabricated or irrelevant. Iran says it has been cooperating with the agency within IAEA rules.

Qashqavi said that "working with the agency has to fall within the parameters of the regulations and also the safeguards and our agreements with the agency".

"We are always ready for the continuation of our cooperation within the confines of the modality for agreement," he said, but added that Iran would need time "to study, to analyze" the report before commenting on its contents.

Diplomats say the IAEA is likely to show Iran has gradually expanded its enrichment capacity, work that can be used to make power plant fuel or material for weapons if refined much more.

Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer and also with the second-largest natural-gas reserves, says it needs nuclear power plants so it can save more of its hydrocarbons for export.

But it has failed to convince world powers of its peaceful intentions, prompting the UN Security Council to impose three sets of limited sanctions.

The United States wants a fourth set, but analysts say Washington's row with Russia over Georgia could hinder agreement at the United Nations about imposing new penalties.