Iran has rejected a new request by UN nuclear watchdog to revisit its Parchin military base, where the United States charges Iran is conducting tests of nuclear weapons, a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Tuesday.
Deputy chief of IAEA, Pierre Goldschmidt, quoted Iran's response as saying: "The expectation of the (IAEA) in visiting specified ... points in Parchin Complex is fulfilled and thus there is no justification for an additional visit."
Goldschmidt told the IAEA board that while Iran allowed inspectors an initial visit in mid-January, the experts' visits were limited to one site and only five buildings on the Parchin military base.
He also said that Iran continues to build a heavy water reactor in the city of Arak which can produce plutonium, despite IAEA's requests to cease construction on the facility.
"Iran had failed to report in a timely manner" about the tunnels it is building at a uranium conversion facility in Isfahan where nuclear material or equipment can be stored, Goldschmidt said.
IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei also called on Iran on Monday to do more to assist IAEA inspections.
In London, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took a conciliatory line on Iran's nuclear issue, saying Washington had supported diplomatic efforts by France, Britain and Germany to persuade Iran to give up its program of uranium enrichment.
"The United States has been clear that we are supportive of what the Europeans are trying to do in giving the Iranians an opportunity to show the world that they are prepared to live up to their obligations and of course we retain the possibility of referral to the (UN) Security Council," Rice was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Asked whether she thought military action against Iran was possible, the US top diplomat said the US "never categorically rules out anything but we are in a state in which diplomacy has time to work, in which we have many other diplomatic arrows in our quiver."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan also urged Iran to live up to its obligations to abandon its alleged ambitions for nuclear weapons.
"Iran has certain international obligations that they have committed to. We want to see them live up to those obligations... That means coming clean and fully cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency and fully complying with those international obligations," he said.
"Ultimately, we want to see the permanent end to Iran's reprocessing and enrichment activities. That will be a key to make sure that they are not developing nuclear weapons," McClellan noted.
"What we want to do is make sure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon," McClellan added.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov pledged on Tuesday that Russia will do its utmost to prevent emergence of nuclear weapons in Iran.
Speaking to German and Italian reporters on the eve of his tour of Germany and Italy, Ivanov said Russia has close stand with Europe over Iran's nuclear problem, which is very important in the medium-term perspective.
"Russia will do all it can to prevent the emergence of nuclear weapons in Iran," Itar-Tass news agency reported.
In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said Tuesday that Iran will never give up its peaceful nuclear activities in exchange for economic incentives, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"Iran's legal rights on peaceful nuclear technology could not be replaced by the offered economic incentives, and the Iranian nation would never let the government or any group deprive it of its lawful right," Kharazi was quoted as saying at the opening ceremony of the 15th Persian Gulf conference.
He said Iran needed 20 nuclear power plants to generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity it needs.
Kharazi said the Europeans realized they could not resort to force when talking to Iran and expressed confidence that "obstacles on Iran's way to attaining its right should be settled through negotiations."
He said Iran had always voiced its readiness to cooperate with the International Atomic Agency Energy (IAEA) and the European Union (EU).
"Iran is always ready to work out a formula which would permit Iran to continue its enrichment activities while assuring the IAEA that it would not seek any nuclear arms," Kharazi said, referring to IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei's remarks on Monday that Iran must be more open in its cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog.
Iran, accused of developing nuclear weapons secretly by the United State, is under mounting pressure to stop all endeavors to build nuclear reactors.
In order to persuade Iran to halt its highly sensitive uranium enrichment, the EU has offered a wholesale of economic and technological incentives.
Tehran and the EU have concluded three rounds of talks since Tehran suspended uranium enrichment activities last November.
However, the two sides failed to reach agreements on key issues, including Iran's construction of reactors.
(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2005)