Britain repeats concern over Iranian nuclear drive

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Britain acknowledged Iran's right to build nuclear power stations Saturday as it began loading fuel into the first plant, but warned that concerns remain about the Islamic republic's atomic programme.

"We have always respected Iran's right to develop an exclusively civil nuclear power programme," Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said, as engineers began loading fuel into Iran's Russian-built Bushehr plant.

"The problem is Iran's continued refusal to satisfy the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and international community that its work on uranium enrichment and heavy water projects are exclusively peaceful."

He said that United Nations sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear programme had never sought to prevent the construction and operation of the Bushehr power plant.

"But until Iran suspends its proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities and responds in full to IAEA concerns about potential military dimensions, it will be in contravention of six UNSC (UN Security Council) resolutions and have to bear the economic cost of sanctions," Burt said.

He urged Iran to discuss the issue with world powers, saying it would only relieve "international anxiety" about its nuclear activities by "satisfying the international community that these activities are for peaceful purposes".

© 2010 AFP

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