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Iran: Tehran To Sign Protocol On Snap Nuclear Inspections

Vienna, 18 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Iran is expected today to sign a protocol giving the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency the right to conduct short-notice inspections of Iranian nuclear complexes and research facilities. An Iranian representative is expected to sign the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency at 3 p.m. today.

Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who heads Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, told reporters yesterday in Tehran that Iran had agreed to sign the protocol to prove that its nuclear activities are peaceful.

The UN nuclear watchdog in November criticized Iran for an 18-year cover-up of potentially arms-related nuclear research and warned that further breaches of nonproliferation obligations could lead to a referral to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

Iran has repeatedly denied allegations from the United States that it is secretly trying to develop nuclear arms.