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. Suspicious US awaits IAEA report on Iranian nuclear freeze
WASHINGTON (AFP) Nov 22, 2004
The United States refused Monday to accept Iran's word that it had frozen all uranium enrichment work under an agreement with three European nations and said it would wait for a final report from the UN's atomic watchdog before drawing conclusions.

The State Department said Washington wanted to hear International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei's assessment of Tehran's compliance with the deal but stressed that Iran had gone back on earlier similar promises to halt such activity.

"This is a situation we've been in before, where Iran has said that it would suspend, and then subsequently went on to renege on those commitments," deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said. "So obviously our interest is seeing, not what they say, but what they actually do."

The IAEA currently has a team of inspectors in Iran to verify that Tehran makes good on the agreement it reached earlier this month with Britain, France and Germany to suspend enrichment work.

"There's been no report to the board of governors, so I'd just wait until we have the findings of the inspectors as presented formally to the board of governors by the director general before pronouncing on what we believe has or hasn't been done," he told reporters.

ElBaradei is to present a report on Iran's compliance to the IAEA governing board when it meets in Vienna on Thursday and has said his team should be able to verify suspension by then.

The United States accuses Iran of using a civilian atomic energy program to secretly develop nuclear weapons and has been pressing for the IAEA to refer the matter to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

Iran vehemently denies the charges but agreed a week ago with the so-called "EU Three" to suspend as of Monday all its uranium enrichment-related activities, including making uranium gas and building centrifuges, in order to avoid the sanctions threat at the United Nations.

Earlier Monday in Tehran, Iranian government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh said Iran was freezing its controversial nuclear fuel work in line with the agreement.

Shortly afterward, ElBaradei hinted that he expected the suspension to be verified and said he thought the move was "a step in the right direction" by Tehran.

"I think pretty much everything has come to a halt right now so we are just trying to make sure that everything has been stopped," he told reporters in Vienna. "Hopefully by Thursday I should be able to report that we've verified the suspension."

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