MIDDLE EAST: Iran urges United Nations to close its 'nuclear file'

MIDDLE EAST: Iran urges United Nations to close its 'nuclear file'
Tehran has asked the United Nations Security Council to close its 'nuclear dossier' and send it to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran's permanent envoy to the United Nations said on Saturday.

"The time has come to end the illegal consideration of Iran's nuclear issue at the Security Council, and send the case back to a relevant technical forum, specifically the International Atomic Energy Agency," Mohammad Khazaei said.

He warned that the Security Council's further involvement in the matter would only complicate the situation and undermine the IAEA's credibility. The envoy said previously that Iran never sought nuclear weapons before 2003 nor will it be seeking them in the future.

Khazaei referred to the recent U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report on Iran saying, "It had two aspects: a positive aspect and a negative one. Negative in the sense it claimed Iran had been developing nuclear weapons before 2003, something we categorically reject. Positive because it was in line with the IAEA report that says Iran's nuclear program is peaceful."

He dismissed as President Bush's remarks that Iran had been seeking technology for making nuclear weapons and had stopped its program under international pressure.

"Theorizing on this issue is of no use and the claim that Iran has stopped its program in 2003 is not true because there was no pressure on Iran at that time," he said.

Iran's foreign minister said in late December that "since there is no evidence that Iran has deviated from [the peaceful nature of] its nuclear program... the time has come for the parties dealing with the [Iranian] nuclear issue to make a bold and logical decision and return the matter to the IAEA."

Manouchehr Mottaki also said that Iran had turned down demands by the United States to halt its uranium enrichment program as a precondition for direct negotiations with Washington.

"Following the publication of a U.S. intelligence report on Iran, U.S. politicians have begun talking about certain preconditions for negotiations. But we do not accept any conditions," Mottaki said.

He said U.S. sanctions against Iran, ongoing international pressure, and the double standards practiced by the U.S. administration in the fight against terrorism contradicted the White House's statements regarding its readiness to begin a dialogue with the Islamic Republic.

"The Americans have to prove first that they are not pursuing their own interests, but are working on a new approach [with respect to Iran]," the minister said.

The NIE, published on December 3, stated that Tehran had put a stop to weapons production in 2003, although it was continuing to enrich uranium.

The report contradicted a previous U.S. intelligence assessment in 2005 which said that the Islamic Republic was actively pursuing a nuclear bomb.

U.S. President George W. Bush remained hawkish, despite the report, saying that, "Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous and Iran will be dangerous if they have the know how to make a nuclear weapon."

When asked if military action remained an option, the president answered, "The best diplomacy - effective diplomacy - is one in which all options are on the table."

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