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Iran: U.S. Wants Tehran To Accept Tougher Nuclear Inspections

Washington, 12 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The United States has called on Iran to accept more thorough international inspections of its nuclear program. White House National Security Council Spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States does not believe there is any "rationale" for Iran to have a nuclear program.

The U.S. spokesman backed yesterday's call by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Muhammd el-Baradei, for Iran to sign an additional protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to allow surprise international inspections and extensive monitoring of nuclear sites.

The United States has accused Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons and says Iran's nuclear programs are far more advanced than previously believed. Iran denies seeking atomic weapons.

On a visit to Tehran yesterday, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov defended Iran's nuclear projects as peaceful and transparent.