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Iran insists on nuclear 'rights'
Iran has an "inalienable right" to produce nuclear energy, the country's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has told the United Nations. Speaking before the General Assembly, he invited other states and private companies to help with the programme.
He strongly criticised US arms policies and said Islam precluded Iran from having atomic weapons. Earlier, the US secretary of state accused Iran of threatening efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Condoleezza Rice told the General Assembly at the beginning of its session on Saturday that the UN Security Council must deal effectively with Iran.
"Iran should return to negotiations with the EU3 [the UK, France and Germany] and abandon forever its plans for a nuclear weapons capability," she said.
"When diplomacy has been exhausted, the Security Council must become involved."
Jack Straw, the UK foreign secretary, told the BBC Mr Ahmadinejad's speech had been "disappointing and unhelpful".
The US and the EU want Iran to give up any idea of having an enrichment capability at all. 'Legitimate rights' Iran's leader said his country was being denied the technology to produce peaceful nuclear energy.
"Some countries do not have the right to enjoy their legitimate rights," he said.
In an apparent reference to the US, he condemned what he said were powerful interests bullying and misrepresenting Iran. Mr Ahmadinejad called on the General Assembly to work for complete nuclear disarmament, and to establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. He told CNN in an earlier interview that his country had "the means to defend and obtain its rights", without specifying if it would use its oil leverage.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan opened Saturday's session by warning of the spread of nuclear weapons and terrorism without referring to any state by name.
"We face growing risks of proliferation and catastrophic terrorism, and the stakes are too high to continue down a dangerous path of diplomatic brinkmanship," he told the assembly's annual session.
Ms Rice advocated expanding the Security Council, an issue omitted from the reform package agreed at the UN World Summit, which ended on Friday.
Other issues not covered in detail at the World Summit may be raised at the session of the General Assembly, which brings together ministers from the UN's 191 member-states, and is due to last 12 days. Ms Rice called for a "lasting revolution of reform" and argued that countries with poor human rights should not be allowed to sit on UN committees judging other nations' records. Much disappointment greeted the 35-page document adopted by the leaders, which had been diluted over long negotiations.
It omitted references to disarmament, reform of the UN Security Council and hard details of a plan to create a new human rights council. However, the document passed at the historic summit in New York - held to mark 60 years of the UN as a body - did contain commitments to fight global poverty and reform the UN's structure.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has confirmed that disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan provided North Korea with centrifuge machines and their designs, Kyodo news agency said on Wednesday. Khan, revered in Pakistan as the man who gave his country the weapons capability to balance that of nuclear-armed neighbour and rival India, admitted last year to leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. In an interview with Kyodo on Tuesday, Musharraf spoke in public for the first time about Khan's clandestine transfer of nuclear technology, the Japanese agency reported from Islamabad.