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IAEA Meets Amid Doubts Over Iran's Nuclear Intentions

Muhammad el-Baradei (epa) November 22, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has opened a two-day meeting in Vienna.

The meeting of IAEA's 35-nation board is due to focus on the report submitted last week by IAEA chief Muhammad el-Baradei outlining the progress of the probe into Iran's nuclear activities.

The report said Iran has made important strides to clear up questions about its nuclear program but cautioned that the Islamic republic was expanding uranium enrichment despite UN demands to suspend such action.

El-Baradei stressed today that the IAEA knows less now about Iran's nuclear activities than it did a year ago. He said he did not have enough information to be absolutely sure that Iran's nuclear intentions are entirely peaceful. The IAEA, el-Baradei said, "was unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities."

El-Baradei urged Tehran to increase cooperation with his agency's investigation.

Meanwhile, in Tehran, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Said Jalili, said he will meet EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana on November 30 in London to discuss Iran's nuclear program. Jalili said he was upbeat about talks with Solana. "In talks with Mr. Solana we have the same points of view and according to the last talks between our deputies, next Friday we will continue our talks in London."

Solana has said he would "probably" meet Jalili on that date.

Solana is due to report on Iran's readiness to suspend uranium enrichment and enter into negotiations on its nuclear program before major powers make a decision on whether to impose further punitive measures on the Islamic Republic.

Solana has tried to persuade Iran to resume talks on suspending uranium enrichment in exchange for a package of political and economic incentives, but Tehran has refused to take concrete steps.

Jalili has reiterated that Iran will not yield to pressure but said his country is nonetheless ready to seek a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff. "I have new ideas in this framework and I will talk about them later and based on these ideas that we are working on them," he said. "In future, we will certainly continue our talks. If the other side has the same view, we can make a good future based on cooperation."

The UN Security Council has passed two sanctions resolutions against Tehran since December 2006. Washington is now pushing for additional measures, but Russia and China have been reluctant.

Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, says it is eager to develop nuclear-generated electricity in order to free up more oil for export.

The West suspects Tehran of using its program as cover to develop nuclear weapons.

The United States says it is committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the nuclear deadlock, but has not ruled out military action if that fails.

RFE/RL Iran Report

RFE/RL Iran Report

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