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Iran Envoy: Tehran to Answer UN Nuclear Questions as Soon as Possible - 2003-10-05

Iran says it will answer questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency about its nuclear program as soon as possible, but says it does not feel bound by an upcoming IAEA deadline for doing so.

Speaking Sunday in Tehran, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, said Iran continues to cooperate with inspectors from the U.N. agency.

But the envoy refused to say when or if Tehran will sign an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that would allow surprise inspections of the country's nuclear sites.

Saturday, Mr. Salehi said Iran had what he called "a plan of action" to resolve the dispute. He did not elaborate.

However, he said Tehran must receive guarantees that religious and military sites would be protected from unscheduled inspections, before Iran agrees to sign the protocol.

Last month, the IAEA gave Tehran until October 31 to guarantee it is not developing nuclear weapons under the cover of peaceful nuclear research. The resolution, backed by the United States, threatens sanctions if the deadline is not met.