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. Iran's nuclear negotiator phones UN watchdog chief
TEHRAN, Jan 23 (AFP) Jan 23, 2007
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani phoned UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Tuesday a day after inspectors were blocked from entering the country, the official IRNA news agency reported.

IRNA did not give any details about the conversation between Larijani and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Vienna-based IAEA said it was discussing the issue of blocking the 38 inspectors with Tehran, but added that it could continue monitoring Iranian nuclear facilities even without the presence of inspectors.

According to the ISNA news agency the barred inspectors are French, British, German and Canadian nationals.

Despite this fresh show of defiance, government spokesman Gholam Hossein said on Tuesday that Tehran would "continue working with the IAEA," and advised European countries "not to take hasty decisions influenced by the Americans."

On December 23 the UN Security Council passed resolution 1737 imposing sanctions on Iran for its repeated refusal to cooperate fully with the UN atomic energy watchdog or to suspend uranium enrichment.

Iran insists that its nuclear programme is solely aimed at meeting peaceful energy needs, but the West fears it could be diverted towards building an atomic bomb.

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