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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

IAEA, Iran agree to hold nuclear talks in Tehran August 20

RIA Novosti

24/07/2007 16:32 (Corrects Iranian official's name in para 3, adds IAEA remarks, details, background in paras 4-10)

VIENNA, July 24 (RIA Novosti) - Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog agreed Tuesday to hold the next round of talks on the Islamic Republic's controversial nuclear program on August 20 in Tehran, an Iranian official said.

Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency held the second round of nuclear talks Tuesday in the Austrian capital Vienna, aimed at addressing the agency's remaining questions on the Iranian nuclear program.

Deputy Secretary of Iran's Supreme Security Council Javad Vaeedi, who led the Iranian delegation, said at a news conference that today's discussions "were very good and constructive."

Olli Heinonen, deputy director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said after the Vienna meeting that the talks on "the open issues associated with the scope and content of Iran's enrichment program were moving forward successfully."

The UN official confirmed that a team of IAEA experts planned to inspect next Monday or Tuesday a heavy-water production facility being constructed near the city of Arak, which could potentially produce weapons-grade plutonium once its construction is complete.

Iran earlier agreed to answer outstanding questions on its nuclear program, and allow UN inspectors to visit the Arak nuclear facility in an apparent attempt to avoid further UN sanctions.

The Security Council has imposed two sets of sanctions on Iran over the nuclear standoff and recently threatened to hit the Islamic Republic with even tougher sanctions if the country did not comply with UN demands to stop the construction of the Arak reactor and halt uranium enrichment altogether.

Iran has been found in contempt of three consecutive UN resolutions against its nuclear program since last year, with the six negotiator countries (UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany) demanding that Tehran suspend all enrichment prior to negotiating a solution to its controversial program, which Western powers suspect is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

Iran has denied the accusation, saying it needs nuclear power purely to generate electricity.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has consistently stated that the country would proceed with uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes and in compliance with IAEA requirements, but said Iran was ready to allay Western concerns by cooperating.



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