IAEA chief meets Russian FM ahead of Iran mission
VIENNA (AFP) Oct 14, 2003
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov here on Tuesday for talks expected to cover Iran's nuclear activities.

The meeting comes on the eve of ElBaradei's departure for Iran, two weeks before the expiry of an IAEA deadline for the Islamic republic to allay fears that it is seeking to build nuclear weapons.

Ivanov said earlier they would likely discuss the Iran nuclear issue, which the IAEA has threatened to take to the UN Security Council if Iran fails to meet its demands by October 31.

"Most probably we will speak about the problems relating to Iran, North Korea and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," Ivanov said in Switzerland on Monday.

Ivanov said Russia wanted the matter to be resolved peacefully and urged Tehran to sign an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that would allow snap IAEA inspections of its nuclear sites.

"We believe it is necessary that Iran signs up to the additional protocol," he added.

Russia is helping Iran build a nuclear plant at Bushehr, in southern Iran, despite US objections.

Ivanov also spoke about Iran at a meeting earlier Tuesday with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel.

ElBaradei, who was due to leave Vienna on Wednesday for Tehran, earlier warned Iran that the October 31 deadline stood firm.

Iranian officials said Tehran was increasing cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog and could Saturday start discussing signing the additional protocol.