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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

IAEA chief hails Iran's openness, urges further assurances

RIA Novosti

11/01/2008 21:55 TEHRAN, January 11 (RIA Novosti) - The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said on Friday he was satisfied with progress in talks on Iran's nuclear program, but urged Tehran to clarify all remaining issues.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is in Tehran for talks with the country's leadership on Iran's controversial nuclear program.

ElBaradei said after meeting with the Islamic Republic's vice president and nuclear energy chief, Gholamreza Aghazadeh: "I asked Mr Aghazadeh to give us maximum transparency and provide assurances about all present nuclear activities, so we could in turn give Iran all necessary guarantees," said ElBaradei.

The IAEA chief called the discussions "frank and friendly."

ElBaradei said that the situation surrounding Iran's nuclear program had stabilized but needed further clarification to ensure further progress in negotiations.

He will meet on Saturday with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili before returning to Vienna on Sunday.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh said: "Tomorrow during [ElBaradei's] meeting with the leader [Khamenei], there will be an extremely important exchange of information, which will help resolve outstanding issues on Iran's nuclear dossier."

Iran's nuclear chief reaffirmed his country's resolve to continue cooperating with IAEA on outstanding nuclear issues but urged the West not to interfere with the negotiating process, and to stop politicizing the Iranian nuclear problem.

Several Western countries suspect Iran's nuclear program is geared toward the production of atomic weapons. Iran denies the allegations, saying intends to use nuclear power purely for electricity generation.

Two sets of UN Security Council sanctions are currently in place against Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment that could be used in both electricity generation and weapons production. A further round of more stringent sanctions has so far been blocked by China and Russia.

U.S. President George W. Bush said on Thursday during his visit to Middle East that until Tehran stops uranium enrichment, the Islamic Republic remains a "threat to world peace."

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