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Iran seeks help from world nuclear body

TEHRAN, May 17 (Reuters) - Iran asked the International Atomic Energy Agency on Wednesday to help run a nuclear research centre, the official news agency IRNA reported.

Iran , which says it has no ambition to develop nuclear weapons, wants Western experts to help ensure its nuclear power projects conform to top international safety standards.

" Iran is interested in receiving more technical aid from the IAEA," IRNA quoted Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran 's Atomic Energy Organisation, as telling visiting IAEA Director-General Mohamed Elbaradei.

Aghazadeh invited the Vienna-based IAEA to supervise an educational nuclear facility west of Tehran which conducts research on nuclear applications in agriculture and medicine, IRNA said.

A senior Iranian nuclear official recently said Iran 's first nuclear power plant, under construction with Russian help in the Gulf port of Bushehr, had been deprived of top-quality supervision because of Western sanctions on "dual-use" technology.

The United States and Israel are leading a campaign against Iran 's pursuit of nuclear technology, fearing it will lead to the manufacture of nuclear arms by a state they see as a threat.

"Just as we are opposed to the use of nuclear technology in making weapons, we are also against (Western) pressure against free and independent countries under the pretext of disarmament," state radio quoted President Mohammad Khatami as telling Elbaradei.

"Efforts should be made to remove the destructive aspect of atomic energy and use it for progress and development."

Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a similar pact against the spread of chemical weapons.

It says Western sanctions have hampered its drive to supply 10 percent of the country's energy needs from nuclear sources within two decades.


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