Sunday, August 08, 2004

Iran Govt Denies Providing Missile Site for N. Korea

Iran Govt Denies Providing Missile Site for N. Korea: "Iran Govt Denies Providing Missile Site for N. Korea

Agencies, Arab News

TEHRAN, 8 August 2004 — Iran yesterday dismissed allegations it was providing test sites for North Korean long-range missiles designed to deliver nuclear warheads, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The denial, made by Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani, follows a Bush administration official’s claim Thursday that North Korea was sharing technology information with Iran, which is allegedly carrying out missile tests on the Asian nation’s behalf.

Shamkhani rejected the claim, saying, “Iran does not cooperate with North Korea in missile technology and it does not need to.” US President George W. Bush has labeled Iran and North Korea as being part of an “axis of evil”, accusing both of pursuing nuclear weapons programs.

A leading military publication, Jane’s Defense Weekly, reported recently that North Korea was developing two new ballistic missile systems that have “appreciably expanded the ballistic-missile threat.”

Shamkhani said Iran is developing its Shahab-3 missile as a measure against Israel’s missile power, which Tehran concluded tests of last year. The missile is thought to be capable of carrying a 1,000-kilogram warhead over a distance of some 1,300 kilometers, allegedly bringing archenemy Israel within missile range.

While Shamkhani denied any kind of nuclear military activity by Iran, he said his country would not leave its people without defense. “That’s why we have to invest on nuclear defense preparation,” he added without elaborating. Washington is working with South Korea, Japan, China and Russia to negotiate an agreement with North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program. With Iran, the White House has been trying to haul Tehran before the United Nations Security Council based on accusations that the Persian state has been trying to build nuclear weapons against its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.

Iran maintains its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, geared toward production of nuclear energy. A senior Iranian official again insisted in remarks published yesterday that Tehran would not give up its right to produce its own nuclear fuel, which other countries fear will be diverted to military purposes.

“That is something that Iran will not accept and Iran strongly resisted it in negotiations in Paris” with European states last month, Hossein Moussavian, was quoted as saying by the Tehran Times. Moussavian said the talks on July 29 and 30 “had reached a very complicated and difficult stage” but added that “the negotiators are determined to continue their talks.”

The Europeans had told Iran “we recognize your right to possess peaceful (nuclear technology) and we give an international guarantee to provide you with nuclear fuel and facilitate your efforts to gain access to nuclear technology,” he said. But they had added that “since the fuel cycle in Iran may be diverted toward a nuclear weapons program in the future, we want you to relinquish it as a confidence building measure.”

This was unacceptable to Tehran, Moussavian said. On Wednesday Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi asserted the Islamic republic had a “legitimate right” to enrich uranium, the most sensitive part of the nuclear fuel cycle that the country is under pressure to abandon. “We will lobby for our rights in the international community to deal with the negative atmosphere our enemies have created against Iran,” Kharrazi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

“We will never allow the enemy to trample upon our legitimate rights enshrined in the international conventions,” he added. The European Union’s “big three” — Britain, France and Germany — have been pressing Iran to cease working on the nuclear fuel cycle in exchange for increased trade and cooperation and the guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel from abroad.

Meanwhile, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei yesterday condemned the new wave of violence in Iraq, especially in the Shi'i holy city of Najaf, comparing US forces to “a wolf caught in a trap.”

“The United States has reached a dead-end in Iraq and is acting like a wolf caught in a trap, trying to terrify some by either brawling or showing its claws, but the Iraqis’ will and determination will not let the US gulp down a big morsel such as Iraq,” he was quoted on student news agency ISNA.

Iran’s President Mohammad Khatami also condemned the new wave of violence in various Iraqi cities as “utterly unacceptable, especially acting aggressively against holy sites such as Najaf (and) widening the chasm between Iraqis and the occupiers.”

“I do not think that the occupiers would solve their problems by implementing such measures,” he added on his return from a three-day visit to neighboring Azerbaijan. "

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