Iran dismisses US comments on nuclear danger

Iran dismisses US comments on nuclear danger

Tehran: Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator brushed off US comments that Tehran was still a danger and said he hoped future US intelligence reports would say Tehran’s nuclear plans had always been peaceful.

The US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Monday surprised US friends and foes by saying Iran halted an atomic weapons programme in 2003, contradicting charges by the Bush administration that Tehran was actively working on an atom bomb.

Tehran welcomed the report although it insists that its nuclear programme has never had any military goals.

"In the report they said that Iran’s nuclear activity was peaceful after 2003 and I hope they say in their next report that all Iran’s activity was peaceful since the beginning," said Saeed Jalili, top nuclear negotiator of Iran after visiting Russia.

The NIE report, however, said Iran was continuing to develop the technical means that could be applied for producing weapons. US President George W. Bush said Iran remained a danger if it mastered the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon.

Jalili responded: "Bush’s remarks were not new. What is important is their official organizations admitted that Iran did not have non-peaceful activities."

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator was speaking to reporters after talks in Moscow, where President Vladimir Putin told him that he expected Tehran to open up its atomic energy programme to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The IAEA said in a report last month Tehran was cooperating but not proactively. IAEA director Mohamed El Baradei said Iran was making "good progress" in solving questions about its plans.

The United States said it would continue pushing for a third UN sanctions resolution. Two sets of UN sanctions have been imposed so far because Iran has refused to stop uranium enrichment, a process that has both military and civilian uses.

Asked about any third resolution, Jalili said: "Currently, we have a positive mood in the world both in technical and legal aspects.

"The agency’s report proved that many of the allegations were baseless, and today, many of those who used to raise allegations have announced that they were baseless," said he.

Jalili said he discussed the Bushehr nuclear power plant with Moscow. Russia is building the facility, Iran’s first atomic power plant, but the project has faced years of delays, most recently involving a dispute over payments for the project.