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 Iran Hails U.S. Report That It Ended Bid for Nuclear Arms

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Jason
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PostSubject: Iran Hails U.S. Report That It Ended Bid for Nuclear Arms   Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:52 am

TEHRAN, Dec. 4 — Iran on Tuesday welcomed a major American intelligence report’s conclusion that it was not developing a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

“It is natural that we welcome it,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told state-run radio. “Some of the same countries which had questions or ambiguities about our nuclear program are changing their views realistically.”

The report, a National Intelligence Assessment released Monday, concluded that Iran halted a clandestine nuclear weapons program in 2003. Iran contends that its effort to develop nuclear materials is intended only for civilian uses.

Mohsen Aminzadeh, a former deputy foreign minister, said that the report could suggest that the United States wants to pursue a diplomatic resolution to Iran’s case.

“The announcement that Iran has had no weapons activities since 2003 is very important,” he said. “It shows that the U.S. is showing flexibility and wants to find a solution.”

However, some analysts viewed the report with skepticism, expressing fear that the West might increase economic pressure on Iran as the threat of a military confrontation with the United States diminishes.

“It might be good news because it shows a military strike by the U.S. might be off the table,” said Saeed Leylaz, an economist and political analyst in Tehran. “But I don’t see how it can be positive for people’s economic situation when it stresses that pressure and sanctions have worked.”

Iranian authorities were surprised last week when Chinese state banks refused to lend money to Iranian businessmen. They did so after the United States and United Nations renewed calls for international banks to limit dealings with Iran as part of sanctions tied to its nuclear program.

The leader of the Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce, Assadolah Asgaroladi, said Monday that Chinese state banks had refused to open letters of credit for Iranian businessmen in the past week, the daily newspaper Etemad Melli reported.
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