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Sunday, 13th May 2007

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The Press Association Sat 15 Oct 2005

Iran denies troop attacks link

Iran has used an anti-nuclear weapons conference to publicly deny links with bomb attacks on British forces in Iraq.

Iranian ambassador Dr Seyed Mohammed Hossein Adeli said the claims had been floated in diplomatic circles since the spring. Last week Tony Blair said there was evidence the attacks in southern Iraq led back to Iran.

His remarks followed the disclosure by a senior UK official that the sophisticated bombs that killed eight British soldiers had been supplied by Hezbollah via the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. But Dr Adeli insisted: "There is no connection either direct or indirect to terrorist attacks on British soldiers in Iraq," he said.

He said the only grounds for the allegations were that bombs left over in Iraq from the Iran-Iraq war may have been used by insurgents. He added he did not want this diplomatic dispute to affect negotiations over his country's development of nuclear technology. Dr Adeli, speaking at the annual Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament conference, said: "We do not expect the British to use Iraq to put pressure on Iran during nuclear negotiations."

The ambassador also described claims made on Friday by the US ambassador to the UN about an Iranian nuclear weapons plan as "baseless". Referring to John Bolton's claims that Iran has engaged in an 18-year programme to develop nuclear weapons and might be intending to supply them to terrorists, Dr Adeli said this was completely false.

"We have had a nuclear power programme for 18 years but have never made any kind of nuclear weapon."

Earlier, Dr Adeli told the conference Iran's nuclear programme was subjected to "controversy full of mis-statements and false allegations". Iran needs a nuclear programme because its oil supplies were being depleted and the country's growth depended on having a sustainable energy supply.

The country had never broken any international law in its nuclear technology programme and felt it was being prevented in its "inalienable" right to develop a nuclear power supply. Iran was willing, he said, to re-enter negotiations with the EU without any pre-conditions.

During his speech to the CND several people were told to leave the room following protests at Iran's human rights record. Several protesters shouted: "Fascists," at the ambassador and the organisers of the conference. Walter Wolfgang, the 82-year-old peace campaigner who was forced out of the Labour Party conference last month, was in the audience.

Earlier in the day Mr Wolfgang had received a warm welcome from the conference when he made a fundraising appeal for the CND. He said the current international climate was the "gravest he had seen since World War II" but there was also a great opportunity to bring about peace in the world. The conference, attended by 200 delegates in London, finishes on Sunday.

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Last updated: 15-Oct-05 22:02 BST