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Iran is flexible on nuclear crisis, says Mottaki

Iran has been holding talks with Russia on a proposal to enrich uranium, so as to remove any doubts about its intentions.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2006 11:22 IST

Iran's foreign minister insisted on Wednesday that the Islamic republic was showing flexibility in the intensifying crisis over its nuclear programme, saying it had "nothing to hide."

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, on a worldwide tour to explain Tehran's position, said his country's nuclear programme was fully transparent despite US allegations that Iran has embarked on a covert weapons programme.

"We have nothing to hide," he said in an address at the end of a three-day visit to Tokyo.

Iran "is committed to follow IAEA inspections, transparency and cooperate sincerely with IAEA," Mottaki said, referring to the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Iran has been holding talks with Russia on a proposal to enrich uranium on behalf of Tehran outside of the Islamic republic, so as to remove any doubts about its intentions.

"The Russian plan is on the table. Principally, it is agreeable. But for details, negotiations are taking place," Mottaki said.

He asserted Iran is "flexible", but said it wanted the proposed programme with Russia to be "as short as possible."

Iran was trying to build "a bridge" between the country's "right to have nuclear technology for peaceful purposes" and "certain countries' concerns about this activity," Mottaki said.

"Diplomats are trying to make this bridge. We are trying our best," he said.

The United States accuses Tehran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a nuclear energy programme. Iran denies this and says it wants only to produce nuclear power.

"We have our lab-scale enrichment. We insist on Iran's right for the next main step, which is large-scale, or commercial-scale enrichment for production of nuclear fuel," Mottaki said.

"And for this next step, we are in the position to coordinate, cooperate, to try to reach a comprehensive compromise with all the parties."

He said that Iran, despite being one of the world's largest oil exporters, had a right to nuclear energy.

"The United States is receiving 25 per cent of its energy from nuclear power plants despite their huge resource of oil. If it's good for the United States, why not for Iran?" Mottaki said.

Additionally, "nuclear energy is more clean energy and more feasible," he said.

Iran signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty during the rule of the pro-US shah who was deposed in the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Mottaki said the treaty gave Iran the right to nuclear technology, including assistance from countries which already possess it.

"That's why we accept and support Japan to have nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Vice versa, we expect Japan and all other countries to support the same right for Iran as a committed member of the international community," he said.

Separately, Mottaki reiterated Iran's support for the new Palestinian government headed by the radical Islamic movement Hamas and called for a timetable for the withdrawal of international troops from Iraq.

Japan, a close US ally which also has deep economic links with Iran, had pushed Mottaki during the visit to conform with the UN nuclear watchdog's resolutions on the nuclear crisis.

Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was due on Wednesday in Malaysia as part of Tehran's diplomatic push ahead of possible action by the United Nations Security Council.

First Published: Mar 01, 2006 09:35 IST