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Iran offers new nuclear deal

Iran says it will open its nuclear program to five years of 'full supervision' by the U.N. atomic energy agency if the world body lifts its sanctions. But the country's nuclear chief makes clear that its uranium enrichment programs are going ahead.

September 05, 2011|By Ramin Mostaghim, Los Angeles Times
  • Iranian workers stand in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant south of Tehran last October.
Iranian workers stand in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant south… (Reuters )

Reporting from Tehran — Iran offered on Monday to open its nuclear program to five years of "full supervision" by the U.N. atomic energy agency if the world body lifts its sanctions, but made clear that it would forge ahead with its programs for uranium enrichment regardless.

The offer from Fereydoun Abbasi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, came amid a new increase in warnings internationally over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. That was led by a report Friday in which the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency said it was "increasingly concerned" that Tehran may be developing its uranium-enrichment program to produce nuclear payloads for missiles.

Iran says its uranium-enrichment upgrades are part of peaceful nuclear programs for energy and medical purposes. A series of U.N. sanctions adopted since 2006 ordering the Persian Gulf nation to suspend uranium enrichment has slowed but not stopped its nuclear program. The United Nations accuses Iran of failing to cooperate with agency inspectors.

"By lifting the U.N. sanctions ... the International Atomic Energy Agency can have full supervision over Iran's nuclear work for five years," Abbasi told the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency.

Abbasi told the news agency that Iran would be developing production lines for a new generation of centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium. He said the IAEA's allegation that the work could be in pursuit of nuclear weapons was "fabricated and baseless."

In the city of Qom, Iranian security analyst Mojtaba Bigdeli said Monday that Iran was trying to show the "transparency" of its nuclear programs.

"So it is high time for Western countries to stop their stubborn stance and grasp the golden opportunity provided by Iran's goodwill," Bigdeli said.

Last month, Iran invited IAEA chief inspector Herman Nackaerts to an Iranian plant where advanced centrifuges were being produced, as well as a nuclear fuel fabrication plant. Western diplomats said afterward that it was clear that Iran wanted to show off its capabilities.

Last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy issued the latest in years of Western warnings that suspicions that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons could lead to preemptive strikes.

Mostaghim is a special correspondent. Special correspondent Ellen Knickmeyer in Beirut contributed to this report.

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