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Iran argues nuclear case in letter to "world"

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran sent a letter to the world’s top diplomats on Tuesday to argue its case in the deepening nuclear row with the West, official media reported.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki pictured in Riyadh November 16, 2007. Iran sent a letter to the world's top diplomats on Tuesday to argue its case in the deepening nuclear row with the West, official media reported. REUTERS/Susan Baaghil

“I would like to emphasise that Iran’s nuclear programme is completely peaceful,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki wrote in the letter, published by news agency IRNA in Farsi.

“This programme is not a threat against any country.”

The agency said the letter was sent to “the world’s foreign ministers” but did not specify whether it went to the United States and Iran’s other western foes, who fear the Islamic Republic wants to use the programme to pursue nuclear weapons.

Tehran says it only aims to generate electricity so that, as the world’s fourth-largest crude producer, it can export more oil and gas.

Mottaki said Iran had shown goodwill “even beyond its legal commitments” to remove ambiguities about its atomic activities, working with the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“All Iran’s nuclear activities ... are based on the agency’s charter and the NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), under the agency’s full and continuous supervision,” said his letter, which ran to four pages on IRNA.

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The IAEA said in a report last week that Iran had made important strides towards clarifying past nuclear work, as part of an August agreement between the two sides.

But the Vienna-based U.N. body also said key questions remained unresolved and Iran had significantly expanded uranium enrichment, a process to make fuel for power plants that can also provide material for nuclear bombs.

Iran said the report showed it had been telling the truth about its atomic plans.

But U.S. officials said it showed Tehran still defying the international community and that Washington would proceed with allies to draft broader United Nations sanctions against it. Iran has already defied two rounds of sanctions since December.

“Unfortunately, improper and unfair responses were given to (Iran’s) constructive policy,” Mottaki wrote.

“It is questionable, indeed, why some specific countries are insisting to follow up the case through illegal and unlawful means, while all countries are clearly informed about the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.”

In Beijing on Tuesday, China urged Iran to abide by U.N. resolutions demanding it curtail nuclear activity but said there was still room to negotiate a solution.

Beijing has faced rising calls from Western powers to back new sanctions against Tehran, but China also wants to preserve ties with a country that is a major supplier of oil. A veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, it has the power to block any third sanctions resolution.

Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Michael Winfrey