UN Atomic Chief Visits Iran
09 Jul 2003, 10:43 UTC
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is holding talks with senior officials in Tehran in an effort to convince Iran to allow tougher inspections of nuclear sites.
After meeting Wednesday with Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said he believes it is necessary for Iran to have, what he called, maximum transparency about its nuclear program. He said this would create an atmosphere of trust.
For his part, Mr. Kharrazi said that Mr. ElBaradei, in his talks with Iranian officials, will find that Tehran wants to cooperate and hopes to find answers that meet the concerns of both sides. Mr. ElBaradei wants Iran to sign and implement an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which, U.N. inspectors will be allowed to carry out surprise inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities. Currently, Iran only allows pre-arranged inspections to sites it chooses to declare.
It is widely reported that Iran may seek an end to a voluntary international embargo on the sale of nuclear technology to Tehran in exchange for signing the new protocol. Iran has fiercely denied U.S. allegations that it is using its atomic energy program as a cover for the development of nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, an Iranian opposition group says Tehran is trying to hide two facilities that could be used to build a nuclear weapons. The National Council of Resistance of Iran says one site is a uranium enrichment plant outside Tehran. Opposition officials say another facility is being built in central Iran to treat uranium and could be completed in two years.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.
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