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Iran welcomes any Gulf Arab role over nuclear row

Written by: Staff

Dubai, May 3: Iran's chief nuclear negotiator welcomed today any mediation by neighbouring Gulf Arab states in the standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme, the official United Arab Emirates' WAM news agency reported.

The row over Iran's nuclear activities -- which is fuelling regional and Western fears that Tehran is seeking to develop atomic weapons -- has been escalating with Iran threatening today to attack Israel in response to any ''evil'' act by the United States.

Tehran, which insists its nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes and has rejected a UN call to halt uranium enrichment, also said it had enriched uranium to a level close to the maximum compatible with civilian use in power stations.

''We welcome any role by the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) in addressing the crisis over our nuclear programme to help defuse international pressure on Iran and spare the region more troubles,'' WAM quoted Ali Larijani as saying.

Larijani, who is on a visit to the UAE, said Iran was confident that Gulf Arab leaders would not side with the United States in its confrontation with Iran because ''they were aware of the US administration's policy of double standards in the region''.

He assured the pro-US GCC -- which groups Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar -- that Tehran's nuclear activities, including its Bushehr nuclear power station, did not pose a security threat to the region.

''This plant does not emit any harmful radiation. It does not even contain any nuclear fuel yet. Fuel will be transferred to it after one year,'' he said.

Washington has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails and Tehran has sworn to retaliate if attacked.

Larijani said Iran was still prepared to hold talks on its nuclear programme, ''provided that our rights are not undermined''.

He accused the United States of sowing dissent in the region.

''The United States is now planting seeds of discord between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.''


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