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IAEA Chief to Discuss Nuclear Non-Proliferation with Bush - 2004-03-11


The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to fly to Washington early next week for talks with President Bush on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, is expected to discuss his ideas on strengthening nuclear non-proliferation and curbing the global nuclear black market when he meets with President Bush at the White House.

The talks are also likely to explore ways of increasing the efficiency of the U.N. nuclear agency so that it can conduct short-notice inspections in all countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The IAEA is still reacting to the recent revelations that both Libya and Iran managed to keep nuclear programs secret from the agency for decades.

This week, the IAEA board of governors closed the file on Libya and praised its decision to dismantle its nuclear program.

But Iran's nuclear ambitions are still under review, and a U.S.-backed draft resolution calling for Iran to urgently resolve outstanding issues will be debated Friday in Vienna, where the IAEA board is meeting.

The United States believes Iran is working on a secret nuclear weapons program, which Tehran strongly denies.

Members of the non-aligned movement on the board, including India and Pakistan, were consulting with their capitals Thursday, after Iran appealed to them to reject the resolution.

The Iranian envoy to the IAEA in Vienna, Pirooz Hosseini, says in recent months his country has worked well with the agency, including Director-General ElBaradei, who he calls the DG.

"The DG [ElBaradei] has expressed his satisfaction of the cooperation by Iran particularly with regard to the additional protocol and granting access to different sites," said Mr. Hossein. "And on the other hand he has expressed his satisfaction with regard to the suspension of enrichment activities in Iran."

But Iran says it might rethink this cooperation if the IAEA board takes too tough an approach in demanding access to its nuclear facilities, which Iran says are purely for peaceful purposes.

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