Tehran-IAEA Cooperation in New Phase

A03341105.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) Iran’s cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog has entered a “new phase”, a top Iranian nuclear official said Friday after International Atomic Energy Agency chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, arrived in Tehran for talks concerning Iran’s nuclear program.

ElBaradei’s discussions with Iranian leaders are critical because they will be the basis for a report on Iran by the UN agency, which praised Iran’s truthfulness about past nuclear activities in a November report.

Last month, IAEA and Iran began a new round of discussions to investigate the source of traces of weapons-grade uranium found at a university in Tehran. Iran argued that the contamination was due to equipment purchased from abroad, not enrichment activity inside Iran.

In its November report, the IAEA said that it requested access to documents, individuals and relevant equipment and locations for sample-taking to determine the source of the university contamination, adding that after a long scrutiny it had come to the conclusion that Iran has been truthful not only about this point, but also about other issues discussed earlier during the new round of talks.

The talks also come in the wake of a US intelligence report last month that concluded Iran is pursuing a peaceful nuclear program.

ElBaradei, who arrived in Tehran early Friday, is scheduled to spend his two-day trip meeting with leaders including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Vice President and head of Atomic Energy Organization Gholam Reza Aghazadeh and others.

Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA has paved the way for Tehran’s nuclear dossier be returned from the UN Security Council back to the Vienna-based IAEA.

“Given Iran’s active cooperation with the IAEA and settlement of fundamental and important issues over Iran’s nuclear program, relations between Tehran and IAEA has entered a new phase,” Saeedi said on Friday.
ElBaradei spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said Monday he would visit Tehran “with a view of resolving all remaining outstanding issues and enabling the agency to provide assurance about Iran’s past and present activities.”

Prior to his departure, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged ElBaradei to press for full cooperation from Iran over its past nuclear activities.

The United States and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons, but Tehran denies that, saying the uranium enrichment is only geared toward generating electricity, not a nuclear bomb.

Iran maintains it would never give up its right under the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel, despite two rounds of UN sanctions over its refusal to stop enrichment.

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