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Iran to 'cooperate' with IAEA

From Kasra Naji

The IAEA board has called on Iran to allow inspectors to do environmental sampling at Iran's Natanz plant.
The IAEA board has called on Iran to allow inspectors to do environmental sampling at Iran's Natanz plant.

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TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran said Monday it will fully cooperate with the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency and if need be it will be "more transparent" in its nuclear program.

The statement was the clearest indication so far that Iran may have softened its attitude toward signing the so-called Additional Protocol -- which allows inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency unfettered access to suspected nuclear sites at short or no notice.

The 35-nation governing board of the IAEA issued a statement last Thursday urging Iran, already a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to sign the protocol "unconditionally and promptly." (Full story)

Government spokesman Abdul Ali Ramzanzadeh told a news conference Monday in Tehran that Iran was looking positively at signing the protocol.

"Should there be need for more transparency, will be more transparent," he said. "On this issue we will fully cooperate with the IAEA."

Iran has announced an extensive nuclear program aimed at producing nuclear fuel for power plants it says it will need to supply 6,000 megawatts of electricity. It insists its program is solely aimed at producing electricity, but doubts linger -- particularly in Washington -- as to Iran's motive.

An IAEA report that says Iran failed to report some of its nuclear material and facilities raised concerns in the international community. The United States, in particular, increased its claims that Iran's program is aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

In an interview with CNN, the head of Iran Atomic Energy Agency, Gholam Reza Aghazade, said Sunday that his country will soon enter talks with the IAEA about signing the Additional protocol.

"Even in the past we never said that we will not sign the Additional Protocol," Aghazade said. "And we have always looked at the issue with a positive outlook. We will try to reach a common ground."

After U.S. President George W. Bush said earlier in last week that Iran would be "dangerous" with nuclear weapons and that the international community must "not tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon," John Bolton, assistant secretary of state for arms control and international security, said Friday that military action was an option.

But Iranian officials said the Islamic Republic would not bow to such pressures.

"We expect others to understand that they must not speak to us with the language of threats," Ramzanzadeh said Monday.

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