( RIA Novosti ) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reaffirmed that his country had joined countries that produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale, an Omani newspaper said Wednesday.
Iran has been at the center of international concerns over its nuclear program, which some countries, particularly the United States, suspect is geared toward nuclear weapons development. Tehran has consistently denied the claims, saying it needs nuclear power for civilian purposes.
The Al Watan newspaper quoted Ahmadinejad as saying at the end of his two-day visit to Oman that Islamic Republic's nuclear program was "legitimate and fully serving civilian purposes in line with Iran's membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)."
Iran first announced industrial production of civilian-grade nuclear fuel on April 9 and vowed to continue uranium enrichment despite international sanctions.
The UN Security Council voted unanimously March 24 to impose broader sanctions against the Islamic Republic for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which the country resumed in January 2006 for what it claims to be a civilian nuclear power generating program.
The resolution sets a 60-day deadline for Iran to comply. It expires on May 23 after which the Security Council should consider further steps on the Islamic Republic.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana agreed Tuesday to hold another round of nuclear talks on May 31, Iran's IRNA news agency said.
The Omani newspaper also quoted the Iranian hard-line leader as saying that the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Iran's first NPP, being built by Russia under a 1995 agreement in the south of the country, had "excellent technical characteristics and high quality."
He invited Persian Gulf neighbors to send experts to inspect the Bushehr NPP, which is scheduled to become operational by the end of the current year, the paper said.