The president's comments on Thursday came as Western powers appeared to back away from making a move at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency on 19 September to refer Iran's nuclear programme to the UN Security Council

"The Islamic Republic never seeks weapons of mass destruction and with respect to the needs of Islamic countries, we are ready to transfer nuclear know-how to these countries," the official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

The remarks were made during a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, IRNA said.

Washington and its allies say Iran has failed to provide full and timely information about its nuclear programme and are alarmed that Tehran last month broke UN seals at a uranium processing facility.

Signatory right

A vote on sending Iran's nuclear case to the UN Security Council may be taken at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) board on 19 September.

However, Western diplomats acknowledge that many non-aligned countries and the IAEA itself oppose referring Iran at this stage.

Iran insists it can develop atomic
energy to generate electricity

Seeking to avert referral to the Security Council, which could impose sanctions, Iran is engaged in intense lobbying for support from non-aligned countries at the UN summit.
 
Iran state media reported that Ahmadinejad, who took office last month, had also held meetings with the leaders of Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan and Chile in New York.

A British Foreign Office spokesman said it was not clear what Ahamdinejad's offer to Islamic countries involved.

"In any case, this is not the pressing question," he said.

"The issue is the lack of confidence in Iran's nuclear programme as a result of two decades of non-disclosures and concealment."

Other nations

Iran insists it has every right as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to develop a full atomic programme to generate electricity.

"We have firmly decided to use this technology for peaceful purposes within the framework of the NPT, international regulations and cooperation with the IAEA," IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

"We have firmly decided to use this technology for peaceful purposes within the framework of the NPT, international regulations and cooperation with the IAEA"

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
Iranian President

Turkey has said it plans to generate about 5% of its energy demand by 2012 from nuclear power through the construction of reactors with 4500 megawatt (MW) capacity.

Like Iran, Egypt has been accused of carrying out undeclared nuclear work which Cairo says was linked solely to peaceful applications such as power generation and desalinisation.
 
Saudi Arabia has said it is open to IAEA inspections but is not interested in developing either a nuclear weapons or power programme.

Iran, which received much of its own nuclear knowhow from Muslim neighbour and nuclear-weapons power Pakistan, says it wants to produce at least 6000 MW from nuclear power by 2021, with eventual plans to generate 20,000 MW from atomic reactors.

Backing away

Meanwhile, Western powers appear to have backed away from an early move to refer Iran's nuclear programme to the UN Security Council.

 

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged that the United States and its European allies may lack the votes to haul Iran before the highest United Nations body next week over its resumption of uranium conversion.

   

"If we get a referral on 19 September, that will be good, but I think the issue of a referral is something that we'll be working for a while," she told Fox News Editorial board.

   

"I'm not so concerned about exactly when it happens because I don't think this matter is so urgent that it has to be on 19 September," Rice said in remarks released after a meeting on Wednesday.

   

Rice said that the US and its allies
may lack the votes against Iran

European officials said they were struggling to build a convincing majority on the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the world nuclear watchdog, to report Iran to the Security Council.

   

"We would not like to be in a situation diplomatically where we have so many countries voting against our motion," a European diplomat said.

   

Another European diplomat said three weeks of intensive lobbying of key members of the 35-nation IAEA board such as Russia, China and India had failed to produce broad support for a referral. Brazil and Pakistan were hostile and "swing voters"

such as Tunisia, Algeria and Nigeria were also in doubt.

   

A European official acknowledged that a failure to report Iran to the Security Council now would be a loss of face for the West, and things were unlikely to get easier when a new group of countries joins the IAEA board later this month.