- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2003

TEHRAN, Iran, Feb. 10 (UPI) — Iran wants nuclear know-how to generate electricity and not for weapons, the head of its nuclear energy body said Monday.

The Iranian Atomic Energy Organization's Gholam Reza Aqazadeh spoke following the disclosure Sunday by President Mohammad Khatami that Iran has begun to mine and will process its own uranium ore.

"Iran is not interested in any nuclear arms production, but the country seeks to acquire the nuclear know-how for generating electricity to meet part of its energy demands," Aqazadeh said.

Iran would observe regulations on preventing proliferation, he said, referring to the international non-proliferation treaty to which Iran is a party.

The United States suspects Iran is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies.

Aqazadeh said he would welcome the visit on Feb. 25 of Mohammad ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

ElBaradei's visit, Aqazadeh said, was a step to make issues more transparent and expose the lies of countries that bore a grudge against Iran.

Khatami announced Sunday that Iran had started mining uranium ore at Saqan, some 125 miles from the central city of Yazd, and that the ore would be processed at a nearly-completed plant in Isfahan, also in central Iran. The processed uranium would be used to fuel electric power plants, including one at Kashan, he said.

Under a billion-dollar deal, Russia has undertaken to finish a nuclear reactor at Bushehr on the Persian Gulf by the end of this year. It is so far the only reactor in Iran.

"In the next 20 years, Iran has to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity from nuclear plants and the launch of these two centers is aimed at producing necessary fuel for these plants," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said.

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