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Iran says it can fend off U.S. attack, protect region

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Iran's top nuclear negotiator said on Thursday that in the event of an attack by the United States, Iran will be able to protect itself and the region as a whole.
TEHRAN, November 22 (RIA Novosti) - Iran's top nuclear negotiator said on Thursday that in the event of an attack by the United States, Iran will be able to protect itself and the region as a whole.

"Iran is a state that defends its rights, and is a haven of security in the region. We are fully prepared to ensure both our own security, and that of the region," said Saeed Jalili, who heads Iran's Supreme National Security Council.

The United States, which has led international efforts to put an end to Iran's uranium enrichment, has refused to rule out a military strike against the Islamic Republic. Most Western nations believe Iran's nuclear program is a cover for building atomic weapons, a charge the country denies.

Jalili stressed that Tehran is in principle against weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, and pointed out that the Iranians themselves fell victim to WMDs during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88).

The official confirmed earlier on Thursday that he would meet with the European Union's foreign policy chief on November 30, and said he was optimistic about talks on the country's controversial nuclear program.

Talks between Saeed Jalili and Javier Solana in London will take place as the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany decide whether to adopt tougher sanctions against Tehran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

The Islamic Republic insists it needs nuclear fuel to generate electricity, in line with its right under the non-proliferation treaty.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Thursday that Iran has been increasingly cooperative with the UN watchdog over the past two months.

"However, I would urge Iran to be more proactive in providing information and accelerating the pace of cooperation so the agency will be able to clarify all major remaining outstanding issues by the end of the year," ElBaradei told the IAEA's governing board.

Iran is under two sets of UN sanctions imposed since last December. The United States and its allies have pushed for tougher measures, but Russia and China have so far blocked harsher sanctions.

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