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Last Updated: Monday, 13 October, 2003, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Iran pledges nuclear progress
Mohammed ElBaradei (left) and Mohammed Khatami
Iran insists it is co-operating with the IAEA team
Iran has indicated that it will increase the pace of its co-operation with the United Nations nuclear watchdog in the run-up to the deadline set for Tehran to clarify questions about its nuclear programme.

But the Iranian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ali Akbar Salehi, said he did not believe that a failure to meet the deadline would also mean co-operation had failed.

Despite pressure from the watchdog, Iran has staunchly refused to suspend its activities, which it says are aimed at developing nuclear energy - not, as Washington says, a weapons programme.

In another development, an adviser to Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, Ali Rabiei, has said the head of the IAEA, Mohammed ElBaradei, is due to arrive in Tehran this Thursday.

Mr Rabiei said that the two sides would continue talks next week on signing an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Sanctions threat

"The pace of co-operation has quickened since the recent Tehran talks and we are counting on it accelerating still further in the coming weeks now that we have drawn up a work plan," Mr Salehi told the government-run daily Iran.

Satellite image of nuclear power reactor in Bushehr, Iran. Photo: Digitalglobe
Tehran says its nuclear programme is for energy only

Mr Salehi also rejected the notion that Iran was not doing enough to ensure that it met the strict 31 October deadline placed on it by the IAEA to dispel international concerns that its nuclear facilities could be used to make nuclear weapons.

"If the way we are working together is acceptable to both Iran and the agency, then logically one cannot declare that that co-operation has failed just because all concerns have not been addressed by the deadline," he said.

Mr ElBaradei has warned Tehran that failure to co-operate fully may result in the UN Security Council drawing up possible sanctions against Iran.

'Unpredictable'

Mr ElBaradei's visit comes two weeks after IAEA inspectors arrived in the country to carry out further checks.

On previous, arranged, inspections to Iranian facilities, inspectors found traces of highly enriched uranium - sparking suspicions that the country was seeking to build a nuclear bomb.

Enriched uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power stations, but if enriched further, it can also be used in weapons.

Find out more about key nuclear sites in Iran

However, despite assurances from Mr Khatami that Iran would comply with the inspectors' requirements, Tehran has yet to accept another key condition which the agency is seeking to impose - the right of UN inspectors to mount snap inspections.

Mohammad Reza Khatami, the brother of Iran's president and head of the country's governing party, Mosharekat Islami, has advocated full co-operation with the IAEA team, saying that the onus is on Iran to prove its innocence.

In an interview with the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), Mr Khatami said Iran's foreign policy in recent years had led to the country being regarded as an unpredictable state.

He said the government should allow inspections of its nuclear installations to convince the world that it was not trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

Mr Khatami also stressed the need for a more open society, saying the Iranian people would defend a government only if they believed that it belonged to them.




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