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Iran in bid to cool nuclear fears

Vienna, Sept. 15 (Reuters): Iran moved today to cool fears it might follow North Korea and quit an international treaty intended to halt the spread of nuclear arms.

Tehran, accused by Washington of secretly developing the capacity to produce nuclear weapons, also said it would go ahead with talks with the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) on a protocol permitting snap, short notice inspections.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, stormed out of an IAEA board session on Friday after a tough, US-backed resolution giving Tehran until October 31 to give full details of its nuclear plans.

Over the weekend, Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine published an interview with Salehi in which he said Tehran could leave the IAEA and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

But the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation told delegates from the IAEA’s 136 member countries that Tehran had no intentions of withdrawing from the 1968 pact. “Iran is fully committed to its NPT responsibilities, not only because of its contractual obligations, but also because of its religious and ethical considerations,” said Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who is also a vice-president.

Washington, which labelled Iran a member of an axis of evil with North Korea and pre-war Iraq, lobbied hard to get the tough IAEA resolution passed.

US energy secretary Spencer Abraham welcomed the resolution, which he said showed the international community wanted to prevent another North Korean-style crisis.

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