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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran cited the latest report by U.N.'s nuclear watchdog as evidence that its atomic program is being used for peaceful purposes, state TV reported on Friday ahead of a new round of nuclear talks with the West.
The report on Thursday by the International Atomic Energy Agency also said, however, that without Iranian "engagement," the IAEA will be unable to resolve concerns "which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program."
State TV quoted Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the IAEA, as saying that the report from the Vienna-based watchdog shows Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful. Soltanieh said Iran has been committed to continuing talks with the IAEA and stressed that the talks require a "calm, propaganda-free atmosphere."
"The most important point of the report is that after a decade of continuous inspections by the agency, there is no evidence on divergence toward military purposes in Iran's nuclear material and activities," Soltanieh was quoted as saying.
The IAEA's report also said Tehran had recently installed advanced machines at its main uranium enrichment site in Natanz — a significant upgrade of a program that the West fears could be used to make atomic weapons. The report, circulated to the 35-nation agency board, was the first independent and on-record confirmation that the work had begun and was advancing.
It is the combination of Iranian activities that has raised suspicions in the West, plus continuously shrugging off demands from U.N. Security Council to stop enrichment — something the U.S. and its allies fear could lead to atomic weapons.
Iran and the members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany are scheduled to have another round of talks next week in Kazakhstan to discuss Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
The talks last year hit an impasse over Iran's highest-level enrichment, at 20 percent, which can be rapidly converted to weapons-grade material. Iran says it needs the 20 percent uranium for its medical research reactor. It also produces lower-enriched uranium at 3.5 percent for its Russian-built reactor to generate electricity.