Reuters: The United States believes its row over Iran's nuclear programme can be resolved by diplomacy, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said in an interview. Iran says its nuclear work is peaceful, but Washington says Tehran has a covert atomic weapons programme and said last week it would not rule out military force to stop Tehran from getting the bomb. Reuters

PARIS - The United States believes its row over Iran's nuclear programme can be resolved by diplomacy, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said in an interview.

Iran says its nuclear work is peaceful, but Washington says Tehran has a covert atomic weapons programme and said last week it would not rule out military force to stop Tehran from getting the bomb.

Rice said it was important for the world to unite and show Iran, which President George W. Bush has called part of an "axis of evil", that it could not pursue its nuclear ambitions and remain an active member of the international community.

"I think this is something we can solve through diplomacy," Rice told France's Le Figaro magazine in an interview due to be published on Saturday.

"But the most important thing, whatever the agreements reached, is that we have the means to check what the Iranians are doing and that they can't get away with it by lying."

She reiterated Iran could be reported to the United Nations Security Council for possible economic sanctions if it does not freeze work that could lead to making nuclear weapons.

Iran vowed on Thursday never to dismantle its uranium enrichment programme, a day after a confidential European Union document showed that France, Britain and Germany had told Tehran they would not settle for anything less.

Iran has temporarily frozen its enrichment programme, a process of purifying uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power plants or weapons, but insists that atomic fuel production is a sovereign right it will never abandon.

"We don't want to upgrade tension with the U.S. but we want to live as a sovereign country and nobody has the right to threaten others," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Gholamali Khoshroo said in Malaysia.

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