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IAEA inspectors arrive in Iran: spokesman

Vienna, Nov 13, IRNA -- A team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors arrived in Tehran and immediately started their work Saturday evening, an IAEA spokesperson said here.

The four-member delegation will stay until Nov. 23 in Iran and inspect several nuclear facilities, the official added.

The team will wrap up its inspections two days before a meeting of the IAEA board of governors here, which will review Tehran's nuclear program.

The world nuclear watchdog agency has dispatched more than 50 teams to Iran so far, marking a record in its operations, with its director general Mohamed ElBaradei acknowledging that the inspectors had found no evidence to show Tehran had diverted resources or materials to a weapons program.

Diplomats said Saturday the IAEA has delayed until Monday release of a report on Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is aimed a power generation.

The postponement came for a second time in the week to give Iran and the Europeans more time to reach an agreement, which they say could spare a potential showdown.

The report is to sum up the IAEA's investigation of Iran's nuclear rogram since February 2003 in order to allow the agency's 35-nation board of governors to decide the nature of Iran's activities.

The United States is trying to persuade the world over its allegations that Tehran's nuclear program is front to build atomic weapons, and pave the way for referral of Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

But, the EU trio of Germany, France and Britain have pursued a ifferent line, trying to strike a deal for Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment activities in return for a package of economic incentives.

Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Saturday that the negotiations with the European Union over the deal are in their final stages.

Iranian officials reportedly handed their reply late Thursday on the proposed deal to the three countries and the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana.

"We did our utmost to cooperate with the agency and build the needed confidence. Iran can take no further measures," Kharrazi said.

"The two sides were able to work out a joint proposal and the Iranian side has submitted its decision. Now it is the turn of the Europeans to submit theirs," he added.

The Iranian foreign minister said 'the time is ripe to shelve Iran's case'.

The European trio have reached a 'preliminary' deal with Iran, under which Tehran would halt an enrichment program in exchange for political and economic incentives.

Under the deal, Iran would freeze all nuclear fuel enrichment and reprocessing activities until it has reached a final agreement with the EU over a package of economic, technological and security incentives in return for abandoning nuclear activities.

The EU incentives reportedly include a guaranteed supply of reactor fuel, assistance to construction of a light-water power reactor and a resumption of stalled trade talks.

On Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi hinted at 'problems' within the proposal, which is also goading Iran to abandon its nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment.

"If the Paris negotiations had been free of any problem, Tehran's response would definitely have been delivered so far," Asefi said.

While the Europeans have called on Iran to agree to an indefinite freeze on enrichment, Tehran has expressly stated that it cannot be induced to scrapping the process for good.

Iran is wearing out a November 25 deadline set by the IAEA board of governors for full review of its nuclear program and calling on the country to immediately suspend all uranium enrichment activities.

Tehran has to prove its nuclear program is civilian or risk being hauled to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

The country has dismissed the deadline, saying it does not accept any obligation in this regard.

... Payvand News - 11/14/04 ... --

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