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Iran says will remove concerns on nuclear ambitions
( 2003-08-13 17:22) (Agencies)

The head of Iran's atomic energy program said on Wednesday the Islamic Republic planned to allay international concerns about its nuclear ambitions.

"I believe that we will remove the international concerns," Gholamreza Aghazadeh told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.

Iran has come under mounting international pressure to allow closer inspections of its sophisticated network of nuclear facilities which Washington says could be a cover for a nuclear weapons program.

Iran insists its nuclear program is solely geared to producing electricity and has so far resisted calls to sign the Additional Protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which would allow no-notice, intrusive inspections.

Aghazadeh said Iranian officials had held "good" talks in recent days with a team from the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency about signing the protocol.

"We predict that before the (IAEA's) September meeting we will have positive information regarding this issue (the Additional Protocol)," Aghazadeh said.

The IAEA is due to report on Iran's nuclear program again in September in a follow-up to a June report in which it criticized Tehran for failing to disclose some aspects of its nuclear program.

President Mohammad Khatami on Wednesday denied a local newspaper report that his pro-reform government had approached U.S. officials to ask for a resumption of talks between the two countries which were broken off by Washington in May.

The moderate Entekhab paper, citing an informed Iranian source, said the message had been delivered to Secretary of State Colin Powell in late July through Iran's representative office at the United Nations.

The source said that Iranian officials had told Powell through a mediator "that in order to ease the increasing tension between the two countries Iran is ready to send its representatives to Switzerland or another country to continue the talks...in the framework of mutual respect."

But Khatami, speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting said: "We never had any talks nor have we sent any message to Americans and all of what the papers are saying is incorrect."

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