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World News

Iran: no nuclear, missile cooperation with N.Korea

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has no missile or nuclear cooperation with North Korea, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday, after North Korea conducted a second and far more powerful nuclear test.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush branded both countries as part of an “axis of evil,” but Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful electricity generation. The West suspects its work has military aims.

“We don’t have any cooperation (with North Korea) in this field. We oppose the production, the amassing and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” Ahmadinejad told a news conference.

Scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, revered by many Pakistanis as the father of the country’s nuclear bomb, confessed to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya in 2004.

Military experts say Iran’s Shahab-3 missile is based on the North Korean Nodong missile. Tehran says Shahab-3 has a range of 2,000 km (1,200 miles), which defense analysts say would put Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf within range.

Iran last week said it test-fired another missile -- Sejil 2 -- with a similar range, a move likely to spark new Western concern about its nuclear ambitions.

Ahmadinejad said weapons of mass destruction were against humanity and the world should get rid of them.

“Why should the people of the two Koreas and China and Japan have disputes which each other? They are all from the same culture. Threat is to everybody’s disadvantage,” he said.

Reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Zahra Hosseinian; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Andrew Roche

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