Addressing a news conference at the World Economic Forum at the Swiss resort of Davos, Iran's reformist President Muhammad Khatami in fact insisted his country opposed the manufacture and production of nuclear weapons.

"Iran has never been after weapons of mass destruction," Khatami said.

His denial assumes significance since Iran has steadfastly been accused by the United States of pursuing a hidden nuclear agenda for developing atomic weapons.

US President George Bush had cited Iran's "sinister nuclear designs" to include it in his "axis of evil."

Iranian cooperation

But Khatami disagreed, saying "we vehemently oppose the manufacture and production of nuclear weapons. For this reason we extend sincere and honest cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)."

"Iran has never been after weapons of mass destruction"

Muhammad Khatami,
President

Iran agreed last October to suspend its uranium enrichment programme and accepted intrusive international inspections.

Khatami also denied allegations of Iran's clandestine nuclear-links with North Korea.

"I categorically deny that there was a shipment of nuclear material by North Korea to Iran. We have nothing to hide," he said.

But Khatami said Iran reserved the right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

"We expect our friends throughout the world to fulfil their commitments to us," he said referring to provisions under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for the sharing of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.