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Iran leader welcomes nuclear plan

President Ahmadinejad receives IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei in Tehran
An Iranian deal with the UN nuclear watchdog would ease tension

The president of Iran says his country is ready to co-operate with a proposal to enrich nuclear fuel abroad to ease tensions over its nuclear programme.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described the International Atomic Energy Agency proposal as a move from "confrontation to cooperation" by western powers.

Iran insists it is entitled to enrich uranium for fuel but the US and allies accuse it of seeking nuclear weapons.

Iran was reportedly intending to give an answer to the IAEA in Vienna today.

"We welcome fuel exchange, nuclear cooperation, building of power plants and reactors and we are ready to cooperate," Mr Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech in the city of Mashhad quoted by AFP news agency.

He also reiterated that Iran would not retreat on its rights for peaceful nuclear energy, adding that the provision of enriched fuel by the Western powers for research in Iran would be a chance to test the "honesty" of Iran's critics.

Correspondent in Tehran say the government is expected to accept the framework of the IAEA deal, but also demand changes to it.

Earlier in Vienna, a delegation of the agency's inspectors returned after visiting Iran's recently-revealed second uranium enrichment plant at Fordo.

"We had a good trip," said delegation head Herman Nackaerts. He did not answer specific questions about any of the data that was gathered.

The IAEA has proposed exporting most of Iran's enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be converted into fuel before being returned to Iran.

The plan was agreed by the US, Russia and France, after talks in Vienna, but Iran missed a deadline on Friday to respond.



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