TEHRAN, Iran – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday called for the United States to apologize to Iran for accusing it of seeking to develop nuclear weapons after a U.N. watchdog report found Tehran generally truthful about key aspects of its nuclear history.
While acknowledging Iran's relative cooperation, the International Atomic Energy Agency warned that its insight of Tehran's present atomic work is shrinking and that the Islamic Republic continues to defy Security Council demands that it freezes uranium enrichment.
The White House called for new U.N. sanctions against Iran on Thursday in light of the report, saying "selective cooperation is not good enough." Iran has said sanctions have no basis.
Ahmadinejad said Friday that "the time has come for the U.S. government to correct its behavior," telling state television, "The whole world saw that their (U.S.) allegations were not true and that Iran's activities are clean and peaceful."
"You (the U.S. and allies) issued two resolutions based on wrong information," the hard-line president said, referring to two earlier rounds of U.N. sanctions. "Now that you have found out that this information was wrong, you have to be brave and come forward and tell the Iranian nation, 'We made a mistake' and apologize," he said.
Ahmadinejad called the said the IAEA report "relatively realistic," and praised IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei for publishing findings that are "to a great extent free from the pressure of some big powers."
Iran reads the report as a political victory nullifying accusations by the U.S. and other western nations that its nuclear activities are geared at developing nuclear weapons.
The deputy chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said the IAEA report should remove Tehran from the Security Council's concerns.
"The report gives a clean bill of health on Iran's nuclear activities for the past 20 years. With ambiguities removed on the basis of this report, there remains no legal reasons for discussions about Iran at the U.N. Security Council," the official IRNA news agency quoted Saeedi as saying.
Much of the 10-page IAEA report focuses on the history of Iran's black-market procurements and past development of uranium enrichment technology. Upgraded uranium can be used as fuel for a nuclear reactor or, at a higher level of enrichment, to produce atomic bombs.
The agency appeared to be stating that Tehran has been relatively straitforward on its enrichment program, repeatedly concluding that "Iran's statements are consistent with .... information available to the agency."
"Iran has provided sufficient access to individuals and has responded in a timely manner to questions, and provide (needed) clarifications and amplifications," the report said.
However, the IAEA also said Iran continues to defy U.N. Security Council resolutions its stops uranium enrichment, and confirmed that Tehran is now running some 3,000 centrifuges for nuclear enrichment.
Iran insists it will not suspend enrichment, a technology it says is needed to produce fuel for nuclear reactors that will generate electricity. Tehran denies it wants enrichment capabilities to make weapons.