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Iran Officially Informs IAEA It Will Agree to Tougher Nuclear Inspections - 2003-11-10

Iran has officially informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that it will agree to tougher inspections and suspend its uranium enrichment activities to prove that its nuclear program is peaceful.

The Iranian envoy to the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, has given a letter to the IAEA confirming Tehran's acceptance of a legal agreement known as an additional protocol. The letter must be accepted by the IAEA board of governors, when it meets November 20.

The protocol will not come into force until it has been ratified by parliament in Tehran. But Iran has said it will act as if the protocol were already in force, and allow U.N.inspectors greater rights.

Iran has also informed the IAEA that it is suspending, at least temporarily, its uranium-enrichment program, suspected by Washington as a cover for building nuclear weapons.

IAEA spokesman Lothar Wedekind, said the protocol allows for short notice inspections of key sites in Iran. "The focus of the verification will be on those most sensitive facilities, but the additional protocol does, combined with other safeguards agreements, gives really broad-scale access to the full extent of all nuclear activities and material in a country," he said.

Iran is asking the IAEA for technical assistance in exchange for its co-operation.

Diplomats in Vienna say that, so far, the agency has not found any evidence of a secret nuclear-weapons program, but the matter will be discussed in detail by the board at the end of November.