Iran doesn't need U.S. security assurances for nuclear program

Iran doesn't need the United States to guarantee its security for it to proceed with its nuclear program, Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Tuesday. Ali Larijani was referring to a U.N. suggestion for Washington to give Tehran security assurances before any final agreement is reached on Iran's contentious nuclear program.

The U.N. suggestion, made by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, was downplayed by U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli, who said Washington would give no such guarantee to Iran.

Talk of a guarantee came amid reports, later denied by Israel, that the Jewish state planned to attack Iran over suspicions it is trying to build atomic weapons, claim the Persian Gulf state denies. "Iran doesn't need such aristocratic guarantees. Iran enjoys a very good national might to protect itself," state-run radio quoted Larijani as saying.

The U.S. has already offered written guarantees to North Korea that it won't be attacked in the hope of halting Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs. In February, U.S. President George W. Bush said it was "simply ridiculous" to assume the United States had plans to attack Iran. However, he also said that all options were open.

On Sunday, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi also said the United States could take part in international bidding to build an Iranian nuclear power plant, a move designed to ease American suspicions that Tehran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to build atomic weapons. But Larijani said Tuesday that Iran doesn't "need America's participation (in Iran's nuclear projects)."

"Nobody has spread tables to allow American companies to sit around it," he said. "This is a plate many other countries and Iranian companies can use." Ereli also rejected the Iranian nuclear plant offer to the United States as a "pipe dream."

ElBaradei called on Washington to become more involved in the stalled negotiations between Iran and the European Union, which are aimed at persuading Iran to permanently freeze its uranium enrichment program. Uranium enriched to low levels is used to produce nuclear fuel and further enrichment makes it suitable for use in atomic bomb, reports the AP. N.U.

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