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Last Updated: Friday, 25 May 2007, 21:34 GMT 22:34 UK
Powers make IAEA Iran complaint
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei
Mr ElBaradei diverged from UN Security Council policy
Diplomats from the US, UK, France and Japan have complained to the head of the UN nuclear watchdog about comments he made on Iran's nuclear programme.

The meeting with Mohammed ElBaradei came days after he said Iran might be allowed to continue some enrichment of uranium, the US state department said.

He said it might be too late to stop Iran entirely and the focus should be on preventing large-scale enrichment.

Iran denies accusations from the West that it is seeking nuclear weapons.

The UN Security Council has passed a resolution demanding that Iran suspends all enrichment activities.

But that international consensus could be undermined by any suggestion of a change in policy by Mr ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, diplomats said.

"We made our concerns clear about the need for a complete suspension. We felt his published remarks were not helpful at this time," a British diplomat told the Reuters news agency.

Inspections crucial

"All agreed that Iran needed to suspend its uranium enrichment activities," a US state department spokesman said.

"They reiterated their continued support for United Nations Security Council resolutions on Iran's nuclear programme."

In an interview with the New York Times last week, Mr ElBaradei said: "The focus now should be to stop [Iran] from going to industrial-scale production, to allow us to do a full-court-press inspection and to be sure they remain inside the treaty."

He has previously said that Iran would not be able to produce the highly enriched uranium needed for a nuclear bomb as long as it remained under the supervision of IAEA inspectors.

Iran is continuing to develop a uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, where it hopes to install tens of thousands of centrifuges for industrial-scale enrichment.

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