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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

IAEA inspecting Iran's nuclear center

RIA Novosti

25/05/2007 19:29 TEHRAN, May 25 (RIA Novosti) - Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are carrying out inspections of Iran's uranium ore conversion center in Isfahan, the deputy chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said Friday.

On Wednesday, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), presented a report that said Iran has ignored the demands of the UN Security Council to halt its uranium enrichment and continued working on nuclear projects.

"IAEA inspections are taking place in accordance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and a nuclear safeguards agreement with the IAEA," Mohammad Saidi said. He also said the inspectors plan to visit the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, adding "There are no obstacles for legal IAEA inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities."

The IAEA report could trigger a new wave of sanctions against Iran, which would be the third since penalties were first introduced against it in December 2006.

ElBaradei said earlier this year that it will take between four and eight years for Iran to produce a nuclear bomb if it maintains the current pace of nuclear development.

Tehran said Friday it is ready to negotiate on its nuclear program if the West respects and abides by international law.

"Iran is ready for negotiations on its peaceful nuclear program, if the arrogant powers [the West] sincerely respect and observe [international] rules," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said.

He said the Western demand that Tehran stop its nuclear program, while "their nuclear fuel production plants continue to operate," is unacceptable to Iran.

He said earlier Friday that Iran intends to become a nuclear fuel exporter.

"Not only will we not halt the uranium enrichment centrifuges, but we will quickly integrate them into our nuclear fuel cycle so as to become an exporter of nuclear fuel," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said.

He said Tehran will not yield to international pressure and abandon its right to pursue peaceful nuclear technology, adding that UN sanctions against Iran "have brought no result."

"There is no doubt that these sanctions will boomerang on the arrogant powers, as we will soon be able to see," he said.

Ahmadinejad said Tehran will ignore any new resolutions against it that the UN Security Council may pass in the future.

On April 19, Ahmadinejad said that Iran had mastered industrial-scale production of nuclear fuel, giving up a research-level program. Recent reports said Tehran was already running 1,600 uranium enrichment centrifuges in its Natanz underground complex.

Since Iran resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006, the country has been the focus of international concerns, as some Western countries, particularly the U.S., suspect Tehran is pursuing a covert weapons program. But Tehran has consistently claimed it needs nuclear power for civilian power generation and is fully entitled to its own nuclear program.

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