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Iran Agrees to Suspend Uranium Enrichment Program - 2003-11-08

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Iran has promised to suspend its uranium enrichment program and allow tougher inspections to prove that it is not developing a secret nuclear weapons program.

Iran's security chief, Hassan Rohani, made an unscheduled visit to Vienna Saturday to meet the head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei.

After the 90-minute meeting, the U.N. nuclear watchdog announced that Iran has agreed to suspend its controversial uranium enrichment program. Washington believes that the program is geared to producing nuclear weapons, something that Iran angrily denies.

Agency spokesman, Lothar Wedekind, says Iran's acceptance of a legal agreement called an additional protocol, is also a positive step.

"The additional protocol gives us additional access and other things and I think that will be a case by case basis whether any particular site that we deem is required for our safeguards that would be done at that time because I think the additional protocol does allow for some short-notice inspection to sites that inspectors feel are important," he said.

The IAEA will circulate a report on Iran's nuclear activities to diplomats next week in advance of a board meeting scheduled for the end of the month.

The agency says the report will detail past breaches of international obligations by Tehran but will also give credit for any corrective action taken.

The 35-member board, which does not include Iran, has the power to refer the issue to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions if suspicions persist that Tehran is building a nuclear bomb.