08/03/2005, 00.00
IRAN
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As he is endorsed President, Ahmadinejad calls for the suppression of weapons of mass destruction

"I hope to remove the seals and resume activities [in the Isfahan facilities] today," says Iran's National Security Council spokesman Ali Agha Mohammadi.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office today as the country's new president after receiving the official endorsement of Iran's Supreme Leader, ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He will be sworn in before parliament on August 6.

Born in 1956, the ultra-conservative, former mayor of Tehran was elected on June 24 succeeding Mohammad Khatami who was twice president since 1997.

The new president appealed today to the international community to renounce weapons of mass destruction.

"I will plead for the suppression of all weapons of mass destruction. Iran wants to see the establishment of lasting peace and justice, [which] is the foundation for international relations. To reach this goal, we must dismantle weapons of mass destruction," Mr Ahmadinejad said.

Meanwhile, Iran and the European Union are at loggerheads over Tehran's decision to restart its nuclear programme. At the centre of the controversy is the Isfahan facility.

The Iranian government insists that the  plant is only designed to process uranium to generate power for peaceful purposes, but both the European Union and the United States are concerned that processed uranium might be used in the production of nuclear weapons.

"I hope to remove the seals and resume activities [in the Isfahan facility] today," said Ali Agha Mohammadi, Iran's National Security Council spokesman.

Tehran announced three days ago that it was restarting nuclear activities at the Isfahan facility after accusing the EU of failing to respect by August 1 its own pledge of offering Tehran a package of incentives for its civilian atomic fuel programme.

However, should Tehran not stop restarting its nuclear programme and wait for the EU proposal (prepared by France, Germany and the United Kingdom), the French government did not rule out economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The European Commission also expressed great concern over Tehran's announcement that it was going restart nuclear activities at the Isfahan plant.

"We have reached a critical stage in our relations," said commission spokesman Stefaan De Rynck. "This is a crucial week," he added. "We are very worried about the news of the resumption of the activities in Isfahan."

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