Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday claimed that Tehran does not seek nuclear weapons and that the Islamic Republic's foes use the country's nuclear program as an excuse to curtail the nation's progress.

"The reason behind the enemy opposition to Iran's development is to curb the country's influence in the world. The nuclear issue is a pretext because they are afraid of the Iranian nation's consciousness," Iranian semi-official news agency Fars quoted Ahmadinejad as saying at the launch of a wastewater treatment plant in Tehran.

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The Iranian president maintained that the Islamic Republic had been fully cooperative with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which he said was controlled by the "heads of the hegemonic system."

Ahmadinejad stressed the importance of Iran being self sufficient, saying "If our country does not get developed, other countries will make decisions for us and this is far from Iran's dignity and stature."

The Iranian president's contention that his country's nuclear program was not military and that the Islamic Republic had fully cooperated with IAEA inspectors was in stark contrast to statements made by the head of the UN atomic watchdog earlier this month.

IAEA chief Yukia Amano said that the organization had received further information regarding activities that "seem to point to the existence" of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program.

"There are indications that certain of these activities may have continued until recently," Amano said in a speech to the agency's 35-nation governing board.

For several years, the IAEA has been investigating Western intelligence reports indicating Iran had coordinated efforts to process uranium, test explosives at high altitude and revamp a ballistic missile cone so it can take a nuclear warhead.

Amano said he had written last month to the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, "reiterating the agency's concerns about the existence of possible military dimensions."

He had also asked for Iran to "provide prompt access" to locations, equipment, documentation and officials to help clarify the agency's queries.

Amano made clear that Iran's response had not been satisfactory, saying he had sent a new letter to Abbasi-Davani on June 3 "in which I reiterated the agency's requests to Iran."

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