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. UN atomic agency to continue probe of Iran's nuclear program
VIENNA, Dec 23 (AFP) Dec 23, 2006
The United Nations nuclear watchdog agency will press ahead with its investigation of Iran's nuclear program, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said after the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Tehran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency "will implement the relevant parts of the UNSC (UN Security Council) resolution that relates to its work," ElBaradei said in a statement posted on the IAEA's website.

ElBaradei, who has repeatedly warned against an escalation in the crisis over Iran's nuclear ambitions, also said he "believes that a long-term solution to the Iranian nuclear issue has to be based on negotiation and mutual accommodation."

The Security Council has asked Iran to honor IAEA calls for Tehran to take "confidence-building" measures, even allowing wider IAEA inspections, in order to satisfy the international community that its nuclear program is "exclusively peaceful".

The IAEA has been unable to make such a determination despite nearly four years of investigation, starting in February 2003.

It has repeatedly called on Iran to cooperate more in order to settle unresolved questions, among them the alleged military links to what Tehran says is a peaceful nuclear program to generate electricity.

In February, the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors called on Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment work, which makes fuel for civilian nuclear reactors but also what can be the raw material for atom bombs.

The Security Council in July mandated that Iran should halt all uranium enrichment, but Tehran defied the Council's August 31 deadline to freeze its work.

The UN resolution adopted Saturday requests a report from ElBaradei within 60 days "on whether Iran has established full and sustained suspension of all activities mentioned in this resolution, as well as on the process of Iranian compliance with all the steps required by the IAEA Board and with the other provisions of this resolution, to the IAEA Board and in parallel to the Security Council".

The resolution slapped the first-ever UN sanctions on Iran, directing all states "to prevent the supply, sale or transfer... of all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs."

ElBaradei added that as the resolution states, he hopes "for a long-term comprehensive agreement which would allow for the development of relations and cooperation with Iran based on mutual respect and the establishment of international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme".

Iran meanwhile vowed to continue its nuclear programme despite UN sanctions.

The Islamic Republic will carry on with plans to install 3,000 centrifuges at a uranium enrichment plant, Tehran's foreign ministry spokesman told the Iranian state Al-Alam channel Saturday.

"This new resolution will not be an impediment to Iran's nuclear progress," Hosseini said, in a statement published by Iranian official media minutes after the resolution was unanimously agreed.

"The Iranian nation, relying on national abilities and within the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its undeniable rights, will go ahead with its peaceful nuclear plans."

He said this would involve "making operational the 3,000 centrifuges unit in Natanz, in a continuation of Iran's peaceful nuclear activities under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency."

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