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World News

Iran to cooperate with IAEA, continue talks - Mottaki

GENEVA (Reuters) - Iran is ready to continue its cooperation with the United Nations atomic energy agency over its nuclear programme, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Monday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki addresses a news conference after attending the High-Level Segment of the 13th session of the Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva March 1, 2010. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud

Mottaki told a news conference in Geneva there had been no diversion of his country’s peaceful nuclear activities and that Tehran welcomed further negotiations with world powers.

“We have fully cooperated with the agency. This cooperation will continue,” Mottaki said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency whose board met in Vienna on Monday.

IAEA’s new chief, Yukiya Amano, and IAEA management should look at Iran’s record of cooperating with the agency, which was completely clear, the minister said.

“There is no proof or reason to see diversion of Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities. There is no document,” he added.

Iran had always welcomed negotiations and was still having negotiations with different parties on the issue of an exchange of nuclear fuel, Mottaki said.

“The issue of swap, it is possible to be carried out. The agreement could be made now, but the realisation, the fulfilment of the swap needs time,” he said, speaking in Farsi through an interpreter. “Twenty percent enrichment of uranium takes time.”

In a letter to the IAEA last week, its first official reply to an IAEA-brokered fuel swap proposal, Iran said it would prefer simply to buy the fuel but would accept a simultaneous exchange on its territory.

That would be unacceptable to the United States and European allies, which hope to get new sanctions imposed in the coming weeks after failing to reach agreement on the fuel exchange.

Western countries fear Iran wants to stockpile uranium to enrich it to levels that could be used for nuclear weapons. Iran says its sole aim is to run nuclear energy plants to generate electricity and produce isotopes for medicine or agriculture.

Last month Iran announced a start to higher-scale enrichment that would refine uranium to 20 percent purity -- the level needed for conversion into fuel plates for its Tehran research reactor, which makes isotopes for cancer patients.

Mottaki, asked about whether he feared Israeli attacks on Iran or Syria, replied: “The Zionist regime is not in a position to somehow wage another war in the region.”

“But we think that the nature of this regime is based on terrorism and occupation. Therefore it is possible they do something crazy,” he said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay

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