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IAEA Says Tehran's Nuclear Plans Threaten Inspections

The International Atomic Energy Agency is calling for Iran to defer resuming work on parts of its nuclear program that could be used to make atomic weapons. The U.N. nuclear watchdog says Tehran told the agency that it plans to resume sensitive work that is currently suspended as part of a deal with European countries.

IAEA spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming, says Iran's sudden announcement that it plans to resume uranium-conversion activities presents the agency with a problem.

"To do so, to change mode from monitoring the freeze of that facility to conducting surveillance, safeguards on an active facility would take at least a week," Ms. Fleming says. "We would have to get equipment there, cameras there, inspectors there and we would have to measure material."

The associated press reports Iran has agreed to a two-day delay in reopening its nuclear processing plant. Earlier, Iran said its technicians would break IAEA seals unilaterally and re-start reprocessing immediately.

The IAEA wants Iran to continue negotiations with France, Germany and Britain, who have held out incentives if Tehran abandons sensitive parts of its atomic program.

"This is a very critical stage when the E.U.-three are about to deliver a package in a matter of days that would address security issues, that would address political issues, that has economic incentives and it would cover nuclear issues," Ms. Fleming says.

Ms. Fleming said any unilateral action by Iran could undermine the inspection process at a time when progress is being made in resolving outstanding issues concerning the country's nuclear program.

The IAEA board of governors is scheduled to meet in September to hear an update on inspections in Iran and to consider if it can give assurances that its nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful as Tehran claims.

The United States says it will press for U.N. Security Council involvement and possible sanctions should Iran resume sensitive nuclear work before such assurances can be given.