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Iran Tops Bush-Putin Summit Agenda - 2003-09-27


President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin say they have agreed to work together to convince Iran to cooperate with the U.N. agency monitoring the country's nuclear facilities. The two leaders met Saturday at the presidential retreat at Camp David.

Iran was at the top of their agenda, as Moscow is helping build a nuclear reactor in Iran, while Washington says the country is secretly developing a nuclear weapons program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency wants Iran to allow tougher inspections of its nuclear facilities and has given the country until the end of October to prove that it is not running a secret nuclear weapons program.

President Putin is not giving up the $800 million reactor deal, but, speaking through a translator, he said he will urge Iran to comply with the IAEA requests.

"It is our conviction that we shall now give a clear but respectful signal to Iran about the necessity to continue and expand its cooperation with IAEA," Mr. Putin said.

President Bush says he was very satisfied with their discussion on Iran's nuclear program, and believes they are both committed to making sure Iran does not use that technology to develop weapons.

"What's important is that we understand that it is in our national interests that Iran doesn't develop a nuclear weapon," Mr. Bush said. "So, the most important thing that came out of these meeting was a re-affirmation of our desire to work together to convince Iran to abandon ambitions, as well as to work with other nations, so that there is a common voice on this issue. You heard the president say the IAEA process must go forward. We firmly agree."

Diplomats at the U.N. agency say inspectors found traces of highly enriched uranium at an electricity plant west of Tehran that the government had previously said was a non-nuclear facility.

Earlier this year, U.N. inspectors found particles of weapons-grade enriched uranium at another plant south of Tehran. Responding to that finding, Iran said the material may have already been on the equipment when it was purchased outside the country.

Iran says it is only using nuclear material to generate electricity. The country's foreign minister told the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday that Iran will not abandon its uranium enrichment program because it is only for civilian purposes.

The IAEA will consider a report on the state of Iran's nuclear program at is next board meeting November 20. It may then refer the case to the U.N. Security Council, which could recommend economic and political sanctions.

Iran says it will cut back its cooperation with the U.N. nuclear agency because it says the October 31 deadline is politically motivated.