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THE WORLD

Iran to Cooperate Less on Inspections

The nation draws back after the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency's issuing of a deadline.

September 23, 2003|From Associated Press

TEHRAN — Iran will scale back its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency in response to the U.N. watchdog's Oct. 31 deadline for Tehran to prove that its nuclear programs are peaceful, Iran's representative to the agency said Monday.

Ali Akbar Salehi said on state television that Iran had been allowing the IAEA more oversight than required under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty "to show our goodwill and transparency. On the strict orders of President Mohammad Khatami, we allowed IAEA inspectors to take environmental samples and visit nonnuclear sites.

"This has been beyond our obligations, but from now on we will act according to the current regulations."

Salehi did not elaborate. But in August, Iran allowed inspectors to visit a site it deemed nonnuclear, Kalaye Electric Co. in Tehran. In June, inspectors had been turned away from Kalaye Electric when they came to take environmental samples. Iran is alleged to have tested centrifuges, which are used to process uranium, at the site.

The United States has accused Iran of running a clandestine nuclear weapons program and wants the IAEA to declare Tehran in violation of the treaty.

A recent report by the agency to its board noted that traces of highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium had been found at an Iranian nuclear facility and said that tests run by Iran made little sense unless the country was pursuing nuclear weaponry.

Tehran insists that its nuclear programs are designed to generate electricity and that its equipment was "contaminated" with enriched uranium by a previous owner.

The IAEA has pressed Iran to detail its nuclear program and sign an additional protocol letting agency inspectors conduct in-depth checks of nuclear facilities.

IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said the agency did not yet have an official response to Iran's announcement. However, he stressed that the agency still hoped Iran would cooperate.

In Monday's interview, Salehi said Iran would continue talks with the IAEA on signing additional protocols concerning inspections.

Iran has said repeatedly it would agree to unfettered inspections if it was granted access to advanced nuclear technology as provided for under the nonproliferation treaty.

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