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FM Manouchehr Mottaki
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Iran welcomes US report, Olmert says it won't hinder anti-nuke efforts
'Condition of Iran's peaceful nuclear activities is becoming clear to the world,' FM Mottaki says in response to US Intelligence report contradicting assertions that Tehran was intent on building atomic bomb. Ehud Olmert: American stance will still focus on preventing Iran from attaining nuclear capability

Iran welcomed a US Report on Tuesday contradicting assertions by the Bush administration that Tehran was intent on building an atomic bomb, and the Islamic Republic said it was becoming clear its plans were peaceful.

 

The US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released on Monday said Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Tehran says it has never had plans to build atomic bombs and only wants to generate electricity.

 

The report could undermine US Efforts to convince other world powers to agree on a third package of UN sanctions against Iran for defying demands to halt uranium enrichment, a process that has both civilian and military applications.

 

Asked about the US Report, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told state radio: "It's natural that we welcome it when those countries that in the past have questions and ambiguities about this case ... Now amend their views realistically."

 

"The condition of Iran's peaceful nuclear activities is becoming clear to the world."

 

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that "the report is familiar to me and I discussed it with other prime ministers during my stay in the United States. 

 

"Even after this report, the American stance will still focus on preventing Iran from attaining nuclear capability. We will expend every effort along with our friends in the US to prevent the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons," he said.

 

Tensions have escalated in recent months as Washington has ratcheted up the rhetoric against Tehran. US President George W. Bush said in October a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to World War Three.

 

'Iran was making good progress'

Two UN sanctions resolutions have been passed so far against Iran, unanimously but after diplomatic wrangling among the five permanent UN Security Council members—the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain—plus Germany.

 

The United States said on Monday it had agreed with China on the basis for more UN sanctions.

 

National Intelligence Estimates express coordinated judgments of the US Intelligence community's 16 agencies. It was a similar NIE saying Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that helped paved the way for the US-led invasion in 2003.

 

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, a senior Iranian deputy, said Monday's NIE showed Washington had to change tack because it could no longer justify charges that Tehran wanted a bomb. He told state TV it would strengthen those opposed to more sanctions.

 

"This report will be another factor in line with strengthening the positions of these countries (Russia and China) and weakening the positions of the group who were pursuing... The issue of the third resolution," he said.

 

"I believe that from the beginning American intelligence organizations knew Iran did not have deviations (from peaceful atomic aims)," said Boroujerdi, head of parliament's foreign policy and national security committee.

 

Iran also welcomed last month's UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, which said Tehran was cooperating -- although it also said Iran's cooperation was not proactive.

 

IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran was making "good progress" in solving questions about its plans.

 

The NIE said it was not clear if Iran still intended to develop a bomb. However, it said Iran was developing technical means that could be used to make weapons.

 

Israel, Iran's arch foe, responded to the report by saying Tehran had probably restarted its military nuclear program despite a temporary halt.

 

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