Iran Agrees to IAEA Inspection of New Uranium Enrichment Plant

Park Sae-jin Reporter() | Posted : October 5, 2009, 14:36 | Updated : October 5, 2009, 14:36
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei announced here Sunday that Tehran has agreed to the inspection to its new uranium enrichment plant in three weeks.

Wrapping up his two-day visit to Tehran, ElBaradei said at a joint press conference with Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, that "the UN nuclear watchdog would inspect Iran's new uranium plant near Qom on Oct. 25."

The inspection of the newly-disclosed uranium enrichment facility would be carried out in line with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Safeguards Agreement in Iran, the IAEA chief said.

Last month, Iran confirmed that it is building a new nuclear fuel enrichment plant near its central religious city of Qom. Following the announcement, IAEA asked Tehran to provide detailed information and access to the new nuclear facility as soon as possible.

The IAEA said on Friday that ElBaradei had been invited to Tehran by Iranian authorities and would travel there to discuss with Iran about its second uranium enrichment facility, which is near Qom.

On Thursday, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili who held talks with top envoys from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany in Geneva of Switzerland, promised that Tehran would soon open its newly-disclosed uranium-enrichment facility to UN inspectors, according to the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who coordinated the talks. 

 Leaders of the United States, France and Britain have condemned Iran's alleged deception to the international community involving covert activities in the new underground nuclear site.

Responding to questions about the Western accusations on Iran's involvement in producing nuclear weapons, ElBaradei said that the IAEA has no "concrete" proof of nuclear weapons program in Iran and meanwhile the agency is working to deal with the international concerns over Tehran's nuclear program.

The IAEA chief said officials from the United States, France, Russia and Iran will meet in Vienna on Oct. 19 for talks on the possible provision of higher-grade uranium for Iran's research reactor in Tehran, which is for researches such as in medical areas and has been under UN inspection and supervision.

"We will have a meeting to discuss the technical details and hopefully we will hammer out an agreement as early as possible," ElBaradei said in the press conference.

He insisted that the Iranian nuclear issue can only be solved through dialogue and diplomacy.

The Islamic Republic's relations with Western countries were moving from "conspiracy" to "cooperation," ElBaradei added.

For his part, Salehi, Iran's Atomic Energy Organization chief, said the talks between Iranian officials and ElBaradei were "very successful" and "we hope Iran's nuclear case will return to a normal course."

Earlier on Sunday, ElBaradei met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the presidential office in Tehran.

Ahmadinejad was quoted by IRNA as saying that close cooperation between Iran and the IAEA served to revolve many issues and there is no unresolved issue between the two parties.

Very close cooperation between Iran and IAEA has led to successful and promising results, Ahmadinejad said, appreciating the sincere efforts of the IAEA chief to achieve this effect.

ElBaradei said Tehran and the IAEA have had very close cooperation, saying that the Iranian nuclear issue is on a right track.

"Since the new U.S. administration intends to change policy based on mutual respect and continue dialogue with other countries, we hope the opportunity would be seized to improve the current status ... the Islamic Republic of Iran as a leading Islamic state shoulders a very grave responsibility to this effect," he said.

ElBaradei arrived in Iran on Saturday for talks with Iranian officials over Tehran's nuclear program. He did not visit the new uranium enrichment facility during his stay in Iran.

Top envoys of Iran and the six major powers also agreed on Thursday to hold a second round of talks focusing on Iran's nuclear issue by the end of this month.

The United States and other Western powers suspect Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing nuclear-weapon materials, but Tehran contends that the program has no military component and has rejected calls to halt the effort.

By Mehdi Bagheri (XFN) 
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