From: Reuters
Published November 16, 2007 09:08 AM

Iran wants Western "apology" after IAEA report

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran called on its Western foes on Friday to apologize to the Islamic Republic after the release of a U.N. nuclear agency report which Tehran said showed it had been telling the truth about its atomic plans, according to state media.

The United States, which accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear bombs, said Thursday's report showed Tehran still defying the international community and that Washington would proceed with allies to draft broader United Nations sanctions against it.

But Iranian officials said the country had been vindicated in the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and that further discussion at the U.N. Security Council about the nuclear dispute would have no legal basis.

Iran, which has consistently rejected U.N. demands to halt sensitive atomic work, says its program is aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more of its oil and gas.

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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "urged the West to bravely apologize to the Iranian nation," state broadcaster IRIB said without airing a direct back-up quote from the president, who often rails against the United States and its allies.

A senior Iranian cleric also demanded a U.S. apology in a sermon to Friday worshippers broadcast live on state radio.

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a conservative member of an influential clerical body, said Iran would not back down "even one iota from defending its basic rights" in pursuing nuclear energy -- echoing frequent statements by Ahmadinejad.

"America must apologize to the great Iranian nation for lying to the world's public opinion," Khatami said.

The IAEA said in its report on Thursday that Iran had made important strides towards clarifying past nuclear activities.

But the Vienna-based U.N. body also said key questions remained unresolved and that Iran had significantly expanded uranium enrichment, a process to make fuel for power plants that can also provide material for nuclear bombs.

In August, Iran agreed with the U.N. agency to clear up questions about its program in order to allay any doubts, but it has refused to suspend its most sensitive activities.

Asked about U.S. and other Western reaction to the IAEA report, Ahmadinejad told IRIB: "They are saying unacceptable and incorrect things ... and we advise them to stop because illegal remarks will have no result."

He said the report was "relatively truthful" while Khatami said it had confirmed "the facts that Iran was stressing during the past four years" but that it also contained errors.

(Reporting by Reza Derakhshi; writing by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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