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Posted by D from 92.52.26.24.cfl.rr.com (24.26.52.92) on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 at 10:57PM :

Group of Eight (G8) foreign ministers on Friday called on Iran to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct tougher inspections in order to allay fears about Tehran's nuclear program.

"Iran's nuclear program is a cause of concern," the ministers said in a joint statement released by the French G8 presidency at the end of a two-day meeting to prepare for the upcoming summit of heads of state in Evian.

The ministers "outlined that Iran had to allay these questions by building confidence, including by signing and implementing an additional protocol with the IAEA and by acceding to the international instruments to which it has not yet adhered."

Earlier this month, Tehran rejected US accusations that it was accelerating its nuclear weapons program and pledged to cooperate with the IAEA, the UN's nuclear watchdog agency.

Iran, which is building its first nuclear facilities with Russian aid in the southern city of Bushehr, has signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and allows some IAEA checks, but has not signed an additional protocol accepting tougher IAEA inspections.

US intelligence suspects that a nuclear facility in Iran, which Tehran insists is to be used for peaceful purposes, contains machines used in the production of enriched uranium for weapons.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said the program in Iran labelled part of an "axis of evil" by US President George W. Bush, along with Iraq and North Korea raised "some legitimate issues and questions".

"We said that it was up to Iran to answer these issues and that we were awaiting specific concrete gestures on their part by signing the additional protocol," Powell told a joint press conference.

"We are encouraging it on the way to reform and we hope that we will continue this constructive dialogue with Iran," he added.

AFP



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