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IAEA Chief Visits Iran Over Nuclear Enrichment Site

IAEA Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- The head of the UN nuclear agency has arrived in Iran for talks on a timetable for inspectors to visit a newly disclosed nuclear-enrichment plant, Iranian state radio reported.

"Mohamed el-Baradei arrived in Iran to meet Iranian officials. He will discuss Iran's nuclear program with the officials," the Iranian state broadcaster said.

Earlier a senior nuclear official told Reuters that el-Baradei would discuss a plan to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to visit the uranium-enrichment site, as demanded by world powers.

The trip takes place two days after Iran agreed in Geneva to allow IAEA inspectors unfettered access to the enrichment plant near the Shi'ite holy city of Qom.

The West suspects the Islamic state is seeking to build bombs. Iran insists it needs nuclear technology to generate power to meet booming domestic demand.

Tehran denies the West's accusations that its second uranium-enrichment plant under construction was clandestine.

El-Baradei has said Iran was "on the wrong side of the law" in failing to declare the plant as soon as plans were drawn up.

The Geneva meeting, to be followed by more talks in late October, eased tension over Iran's nuclear intentions. But Western powers said Iran should offer more transparency at the second meeting to prevent tougher UN sanctions.

The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany took part in the Geneva meeting. Moscow and Beijing, major trade partners of Iran, have long opposed harsh sanctions against Iran.

El-Baradei was last in Iran in January 2008 to negotiate the implementation of Iranian steps, still incomplete, to clarify concerns about its nuclear program.

Western officials said Iran had agreed "in principle" on October 1 to ship out most of its enriched uranium for reprocessing in Russia and France. It would then be returned to power a Tehran reactor that makes medical isotopes.

Iran has repeatedly rejected demands to halt uranium enrichment, which can have both military or civilian purposes, or even freeze it at current levels of output.