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IAEA Says Iran's Nuclear Suspension Incomplete

IAEA chief el-Barradei (file photo) 25 November 2004 -- The head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog said before a key board meeting today that Iran has suspended its uranium-enrichment program, as promised, aside from one exception that remains the object of talks.

Mohammad el-Baradei said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is negotiating with Iran on its request to use uranium-enrichment machinery for research and development without using nuclear material.

"We are saying that we are making good progress, that it was difficult at the beginning because of the past concealment by Iran. But now, since December of [2003], we have seen appreciable improvement in cooperation," el-Baradei said.

El-Barradei said IAEA inspectors could verify a halt to all uranium-enrichment activities "with one exception," centrifuges that Iran insists are not part of the freeze deal, according to AP.

The board of directors of the IAEA is meeting today in Vienna to review Iran's nuclear activities.

The IAEA's 35-member board was expected to discuss the agency's two-year investigation into Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA has found no clear proof that Tehran plans to make atomic arms but is concerned Iran might possess hidden nuclear facilities.

The IAEA board could report Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, an action urged by Washington, which accuses Tehran of secretly seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

The meeting comes one day after the European Union rejected a request by Tehran to exempt centrifuges from an agreement freezing Iran's uranium-enrichment program. The deal was originally made with Germany, France, and Britain and took effect on 22 November.

(compiled from wire reports)