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Cleric says Iran takes pride in new nuclear plant

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After Iran and world powers held talks on global issues, an Iranian cleric says the country’s nuclear program is solely aimed at the civilian applications of the technology.

Tehran Friday prayers leader Hojjatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi pointed to Iran’s announcement of an under construction plant south of Tehran to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and said Iran’s Fordu nuclear facility is “a source of honor and a matter of national pride.”

“The arrogant powers could not tolerate the existence of Fordu site and found it as a subject to raise hue and cry,” said the Iranian cleric.

In a letter to the UN nuclear watchdog on September 21, Tehran announced the existence of the plant, some 12 months earlier than Iran’s IAEA Safeguards Agreement obliges the country to inform the agency of new developments.

The announcement provoked an outcry from the US, Britain and France. Iran, however, says it is shocked by the reaction, arguing that it needs to be praised for informing the agency a year in advance.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the plant was perfectly legal and open to inspection by the UN nuclear watchdog.

Hojjatoleslam Seddiqi said, “We do not seek atomic weapons but we demand access to industrial and technological achievements to generate electricity and meet the country’s medical, agricultural and industrial needs.”

Iranian representatives and diplomats from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Russia, China, France, Britain and the US – plus Germany (P5+1) held high-level talks in Geneva on Thursday. They agreed on key issues including continuation of talks by the end of October.

During the talks, the Iranian delegation headed by top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili reiterated that the site was open to UN inspection, while insisting that Tehran will never give up its “absolute” right to pursue a civilian nuclear technology.

Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), accuses nuclear-armed states, particularly the US, Britain and France of having breached international regulations by violating NPT articles in the last 40 years.

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