Iran dismisses U.S. allegations on nuclear program

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran said Monday the international community has no reason to be suspicious about its nuclear ambitions, despite allegations by the United States that it is trying to produce nuclear weapons.

"Iran has not violated any of its commitments to international treaties in its nuclear program," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi was quoted as saying by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

His comments came a day after U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said the Bush administration sees a new international willingness to act against Iran's nuclear program. The world is finally "worried and suspicious" about the Iranian government's intentions and is determined not to let Tehran produce a nuclear weapon, she said.

Iran has long maintained its nuclear program is peaceful. Kharrazi said that whatever Iran has done in the area of nuclear energy is based on its international commitments and is in line with the country's legitimate rights.

The U.S. government contends Iran is using a civilian nuclear program as a cover for atomic weapons development.

"I think we've finally now got the world community to a place, and the (International Atomic Energy Agency) to a place, that it is worried and suspicious of the Iranian activities," Rice said on CNN's "Late Edition." "Iran is facing for the first time real resistance to trying to take these steps."

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Rice said she expects next month to get a very strong statement from the IAEA "that Iran will either be isolated, or it will submit to the will of the international community."

She would not say whether the United States would act alone to end Iran's program if the administration could not win international support.

Last week Iran announced it had restarted building nuclear centrifuges, which can be used to produce enriched uranium used in nuclear warheads, but Kharrazi said then that Iran was not resuming enrichment of uranium.

Kharrazi said Iran resumed work on centrifuges in retaliation for European nations' failure to force the IAEA, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, to close its investigation into possible Iranian violations of nuclear nonproliferation rules.

President Bush, in his 2002 State of the Union address, included Iran with North Korea and Iraq in an "axis of evil" that he said was dedicated to developing nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

Since then, North Korea has publicly resumed its nuclear development program. In Iraq, invading U.S.-led forces found no such programs after Saddam Hussein was deposed.


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