Ahmadinejad at Natanz (R) 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
TEHRAN - Iran would be ready to grant the UN atomic watchdog "full supervision" of its nuclear activities for five years if UN sanctions were lifted, a senior official was quoted as saying on Monday, an offer the West may greet with skepticism.
Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, did not spell out whether he meant unrestricted access for the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its probe into Tehran's nuclear program.
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Since talks between global powers and Iran foundered in January, Russia has advocated a phased plan in which Tehran would address concerns that it may be seeking nuclear weapons, and be rewarded with an easing of sanctions.
But Abbasi-Davani made clear Iran has no intention of suspending its uranium enrichment program, a condition enshrined in a series of United Nations sanctions resolutions passed against Tehran since 2006.
Western nations suspect Iran is trying to use its nuclear program to
develop atomic weapons. The Islamic Republic has denied the charge,
saying it wants to produce nuclear energy.
The IAEA, which in a report last week said it was "increasingly
concerned" about possible nuclear weapons development work in Iran, has
long complained of a lack of Iranian cooperation with agency inspectors.
It has called on Tehran to implement the IAEA's so-called Additional
Protocol, which would give the UN agency unfettered access to Iranian
sites, even those not declared to be nuclear-related, at short notice.
While granting inspectors regular access to its declared nuclear
facilities, including the Natanz enrichment site, the Islamic state has
so far refused to allow the Vienna-based agency wider inspection powers.
Some analysts believe the West may have to accept some continued
enrichment in Iran for any chance of an end to the standoff over
Tehran's nuclear aims. In return, Iran would have to accept much more
Iran has recently sought to demonstrate increased openness about its
nuclear program, allowing a senior IAEA official rare access to a
research and development facility last month.
But Western diplomats have dismissed this as a "charm offensive" and an
apparent maneuver by Iran to ease world pressure on the country, while
forging ahead with an enrichment drive that can have both civilian and
"By lifting the UN sanctions ... the International Atomic Energy
Agency can have full supervision over Iran's nuclear work for five
years," Abbasi-Davani told ISNA.
He said the IAEA's allegation of possible military-linked nuclear work was "fabricated and baseless".
In a comment making clear Tehran has no intention of halting its
activities to refine uranium, he said Iran planned to increase the
number of enrichment machines in its nuclear facilities over the next
"We also plan to set up new production lines to produce new generation of centrifuges," Abbasi-Davani said.
For years, Tehran has been seeking to replace the breakdown-prone 1970s
vintage model of centrifuge it now uses to refine uranium, but the
changeover has been hampered by sanctions restricting access to vital
components, analysts say.
Abbasi-Davani said Iran was not yet ready to mass-produce the new centrifuges.