updated 12/16/2006 11:05:33 PM ET 2006-12-17T04:05:33

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday his country was ready to transfer nuclear technology to neighboring countries, nearly a week after Arab states on the Persian Gulf announced plans to consider a joint nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad told a top Kuwaiti envoy he welcomed the decision by the Islamic republic’s Arab Gulf neighbors to pursue peaceful nuclear technology, state-run television said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to transfer to regional states its valuable experience and achievements in the field of peaceful nuclear technology as a clean energy source and as a replacement for oil,” state media quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Mohammed Zefollah Shirar, a top adviser to the Kuwaiti emir.

Such a technological transfer would be legal as long as it is between signatory states to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, and as long as the International Atomic Energy Agency that monitors the treaty is informed of the transfer.

U.S. says Tehran’s defiance a ‘serious threat’
Iran is at odds with the United States and its European allies over its nuclear program. The Western powers are seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its program, which the U.S. and Europe say is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is solely for the peaceful production of nuclear energy.

In Washington, Edgar Vasquez, a State Department spokesman, told The Associated Press on Saturday that Iran’s continued defiance of international nuclear safeguards represents “a serious threat” to maintaining peace and stability in the region.

“We expect Iran to comply with international obligations under the NPT and its safeguards agreement with the IAEA,” Vasquez said.

“Iran’s noncompliance up to this point is a serious threat, which we continue to work with our international partners and the international community in the U.N. Security Council to remedy.”

Unlike Iran, the United States said it had no problem with Gulf Arab states developing nuclear energy capability because they show no interest in using the technology to build atomic weapons.

Arab countries exploring atomic energy
The Gulf Corporation Council — made up of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman — said last week it was commissioning a study on setting up a nuclear energy program for peaceful purposes, which would abide by international standards and laws.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said Friday that a deal was emerging on a resolution to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.

Ambassadors from six key nations drafting the resolution — Britain, France, Germany, the U.S., Russia and China — reported some progress at the latest round of talks. But Russia said it opposes a U.S. and European proposal to ban travel against top Iranian officials.

Ahmadinejad has repeatedly and defiantly said his country would continue enrichment and is not intimidated by the possibility of sanctions.

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