TEHRAN, Iran – Iran rejected accusations it was trying to build a nuclear bomb and blamed the United States on Tuesday for a warning by the Group of Eight (search) nations that put Tehran (search) on notice for its alleged nuclear ambitions.
Iran insisted it was already cooperating with the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (search), as it develops a nuclear program it says is entirely peaceful and aimed at offsetting a future domestic energy shortage.
"We are committed to our obligations under IAEA rules," Gholamreza Aghazadeh, Iran's atomic energy chief, said, according to state-run television. He called on the IAEA to stop American attempts to deny Iran access to more nuclear technology.
Leaders of the world's eight industrialized nations ended their meeting in Evian, France, with a statement of "strongest support" for a comprehensive U.N. inspection of Iran's nuclear program.
"We will not ignore the proliferation implications of Iran's advanced nuclear program," the statement said. "We stress the importance of Iran's full compliance with its obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty."
"Considering that Iran is closely cooperating with the IAEA, one can clearly notice that the United States imposed its influence so as to incorporate this statement in the final communique of the summit," said a commentary on Iranian state radio, which is controlled by hard-liners in the Iranian government.
The United States says a uranium enrichment facility Iran is building will be able to produce weapons-grade material. Tehran denies the claim and says the facility is solely to produce fuel for its reactors. Iran's first reactor is being built at Bushehr with Russian help, and more are planned.
Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev said Tuesday the Bushehr reactor will be operational in 2005 -- a year later than planned. The Interfax news agency reported Rumyantsev blamed the delay on the need to replace German equipment provided for the plant before it was abandoned after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.
IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei visited Iranian nuclear sites in February and is due to issue a report later this month. Gholamreza said more than five IAEA delegations have visited Iranian facilities in the past two months.