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. Iran promises cooperation with UN inspectors
VIENNA, May 19 (AFP) May 19, 2006
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani has promised that Tehran will cooperate with UN inspectors, in a meeting with UN atomic chief Mohamed ElBaradei which the Iranians called "constructive".

"The discussion was that of course Iran is continuing its cooperation with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and that inspectors will continue their work in accordance with the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) comprehensive safeguards," Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told AFP Friday about the meeting late Thursday in Vienna.

The goal of the meeting "was to make sure this issue will be in the framework of the IAEA," said Soltanieh, referring to Iran's desire to avoid warnings, or even sanctions, from the United Nations Security Council.

Soltanieh described Larijani's discussion with ElBaradei as "constructive and useful".

Iran is honoring its NPT safeguards obligations, which require the IAEA to verify that nuclear material is not being diverted from peaceful uses.

But Tehran has cut off wider inspections such as visits to sites not directly linked to the presence of nuclear material.

It did this after the IAEA in February referred Iran to the Security Council due to concern over its nuclear program, which the United States claims is a cover for secret development of atomic weapons.

IAEA officials have said this severely limits their ability to monitor nuclear activities in Iran.

Larijani's visit to Vienna came as the European Union is preparing a package of trade, technology and security benefits in return for Iran guaranteeing that its nuclear program is peaceful.

The EU and the United States want the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran if the Islamic republic rejects this package, which the five permanent nations on the council plus Germany are to finalize at a meeting on Wednesday in London.

Iran has already rejected what is expected to be yet another call for Tehran to stop uranium enrichment, the process that can produce either fuel for nuclear power reactors or the explosive core of atom bombs.

The Security Council on March 29 had asked Iran to honor IAEA calls for the Islamic Republic to suspend its enrichment work and also to cooperate fully with an over-three-year-old IAEA investigation, which is still unable to determine whether the Iranian nuclear program is peaceful or weapons-related.

IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire said Larijanai and ElBaradei had "talks about the usual things, issues that are still unanswered and of course the requirements of the (IAEA) board (of governors) to provide some confidence-building matters.

"The purpose of the meeting was really to discuss the remaining unanswered questions regarding Iran's past (nuclear) program and the request by the board for confidence-building measures," Vidricaire said.

He did not provide details.

Soltanieh also said he and ElBaradei had discussed "how to resolve the outstanding issues."

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