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IAEA Ends Talks with Iran on Resuming Nuclear Inspections - 2003-08-05

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency have concluded two days of talks in Iran aimed at reaching an agreement to allow unannounced inspections of Iran's nuclear program.

The three-member legal team from the International Atomic Energy Agency is attempting to get Iran to agree to unrestricted inspections of its nuclear facilities.

Iran maintains its nuclear program is solely for the peaceful production of electricity, but the United States has accused Iran of running a secret nuclear weapons program.

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Iran is attempting to build a nuclear bomb.

Some government officials in Iran have recently indicated Tehran would likely accept the tougher international inspections, but conservative hardliners in the country have said Iran's sovereignty is at stake and have suggested Iran withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that allows open inspections.

Pakinam el-Shakawry, an Iranian expert who teaches political science at Cairo University, says recent events in the region, including the U.S. occupation of Iraq, have caused a rise in Iranian nationalism that, she says, is hindering efforts to get Tehran to agree to the tougher inspections. "It's not a good time for accepting any additional inspections around its nuclear program," said Ms. el-Shakawry. "Maybe in another time, when the region was not in this crisis, maybe it could be more easy to convince Iran to do such a thing. But now it can be considered that accepting more inspections means that it's accepting a reducing of its national sovereignty. So I think it's a matter of national pride."

In June, the International Atomic Energy Agency criticized Iran for concealing many of its nuclear activities, and the IAEA is scheduled to take up the issue of Iran during its September meeting.