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Iran Accuses US of Sabotaging Efforts Toward Agreement
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Iran on Tuesday accused the United States of sabotaging the efforts of Iran and other parties to reach an agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"Whenever the Americans feel there may be any chance for an agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Russia or other countries, they try to destroy it," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi was quoted as saying.

Asefi said, "The Americans are trying in vain to hamper Iran's development and progress while depicting a weak image of the country to the Europeans", denouncing the US policy as "based on unilateralism and weakening international organizations."

The spokesman further stressed that the Islamic Republic "under no circumstances will give up its legitimate rights and like other countries will defend such rights."

Meanwhile, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said that access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes was the "ideal of all Iranians", vowing that the country would continue related nuclear work.

Larijani also complained that Iran's "good will" on the nuclear issue had been "abused" in view of the fact that "attempts are underway to force Iran to suspend its nuclear program for peaceful purposes."

Earlier in the day, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged the IAEA to compensate Iran for its suspension of activities related to uranium enrichment since 2003.

"The IAEA must compensate Iran for our loss in technology and economy which has been incurred by the suspension of nuclear activities," Ahmadinejad was quoted by state television as saying.

Ahmadinejad made the demand just hours before the IAEA board of governors started a second day of a key meeting in Vienna as the US is pushing for a further involvement of the UN Security Council in the Iranian nuclear issue.

The agency in early February adopted a resolution to report Iran's case to the UN Security Council but called on the powerful UN body to withhold punitive actions until the March meeting.

Larijani warned on Sunday that Iran would have to resume large-scale uranium enrichment if hauled to the UN Security Council.

The tension over Iran's nuclear issue has hiked since Tehran resumed nuclear fuel research work on Jan. 10 and the crisis has further escalated as Tehran ended the IAEA's snap inspections and resumed small-scale enrichment work, a retaliative move against the IAEA's February resolution.

Iran is currently under mounting pressure of the European Union (EU) and Russia to re-suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment, a key process for producing material which can be used for both generating electricity and building nuclear weapons.

Tehran suspended uranium enrichment in December 2003 and froze related peripheral activities in November 2004 under the persuasion of the EU.

However, Iran resumed uranium conversion work, a precursor to the enrichment, in August 2005, triggering a deadlock over its nuclear program.

The US has long accused Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists that its nuclear program is completely peaceful, vowing not to give up its legal rights.

(Xinhua News Agency March 8, 2006)

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