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Last Updated: Monday, 15 September, 2003, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Iran vow on nuclear inspections
Mohamed ElBaradei
IAEA chief Muhammad ElBaradei has urged Iran to co-operate
Iran has said it will continue working with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), despite a row over its nuclear programme.

Iran's atomic energy chief, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, said he would go ahead with talks with the United Nations agency on signing a protocol that would allow tougher inspections of his country's nuclear sites.

"Iran is fully committed to its NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty) responsibilities, not only because of its contractual obligations, but also because of its religious and ethical considerations," said Mr Aghazadeh.

Correspondents say Mr Aghazadeh's remarks will ease fears that Tehran might end its co-operation with the IAEA, as urged by conservative elements in the government.

It had threatened to review its relationship with the agency after the IAEA board of governors set a 31 October deadline by which Iran has to allow inspectors to verify that it is not secretly building a nuclear bomb.

Satellite image of nuclear power reactor in Bushehr, Iran (Photo: DigitalGlobe)

Mr Aghazadeh said his country had serious problems with the October deadline and what he called the venomous language of the resolution adopted by the governors.

He described it as the result of partisan politics in the United States.

If the next meeting of IAEA governors in November finds Tehran in non-compliance with the NPT, it could refer the matter to the UN Security Council - which has the power to impose sanctions.

US concerns

The recent discovery of highly-enriched uranium by IAEA inspectors at a nuclear facility in Iran has fuelled fears that Tehran might be working on an illegal weapons programme.

Our slogan for the atomic bomb and weapons of mass destruction is no, no, no, but for advanced technology including peaceful nuclear technology is yes, yes, yes
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
The Iranians deny this and blame the IAEA finding on contaminated components purchased abroad.

They insist that the nuclear programme is designed to meet the country's energy needs.

The US suspects Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons and has been pressing the IAEA to take a strong line.

In August, Iran admitted that it had carried out uranium conversion experiments in the early 1990s, which the IAEA says should have been declared.

Iranian reformist president Mohammad Khatami again fiercely denied Monday that his country was seeking nuclear weapons, the state news agency IRNA reported on Monday.

"Our slogan for the atomic bomb and weapons of mass destruction is no, no, no, but for advanced technology including peaceful nuclear technology is yes, yes, yes," Khatami said.

"No one can stop us from our path," he said, while adding, "we do not want atomic and nuclear technology for destroying others."

The BBC's Michael Voss
"There were fears that the Iranians might walk out"

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