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IAEA chief calls on Iran to be more transparent over nuclear activities
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Visiting UN atomic agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Friday urged Tehran to be more transparent over its disputed nuclear program, after talks with an Iranian senior nuclear official in Tehran.

"We made good progress in our negotiation...and in the talks with Mr. (Gholam Reza) Aqazadeh we requested for more transparency so we could give necessary guarantees to Iran," ElBaradei was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency at a press conference after his meeting with Aqazadeh, head of Iran's atomic energy organization.

Aqazadeh(R), head of Iran's atomic energy organization, speaks with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei (L) during a news conference in Tehran Jan. 11, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

"We could prepare the ground for Iran's activities in the future if we can make its current and past activities transparent," he added.

Meanwhile, according to Xinhua correspondent at the scene, ElBaradei urged Iran to "accelerate the pace of its cooperation" with IAEA, saying his mission in Iran this time was to "overcome difficulties" between the two sides.

Aqazadeh, for his side, vowed Iran would continue the cooperation with IAEA, and urging the nuclear dossier to be returned to the agency from the UN Security Council.

ElBaradei, who was accompanied by his deputy Olli Heinonen, arrived in Tehran Friday morning at the invitation of Aqazadeh.

According to his spokeswoman Melissa Fleming in Vienna, ElBaradei "hoped his visit can contribute to the clarification of some vague issues regarding Iran's nuclear programs and would help to find measures to improve and accelerate the IAEA's supervision and inspection on the programs".

During his two-day visit in Iran, which was the first in overone and a half years, ElBaradei is scheduled to meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and may hold talks with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, according to local sources.

ElBaradei's visit came amid the international community was discussing a new round of sanctions against Tehran over its defiance of refusing to suspend uranium enrichment work, which the West fears could be diverted into weapon use.

The Isfahan nuclear power plant, 2005. (Xinhua/AFP File Photo)

After more than four years of investigation, the IAEA still cannot decide whether Tehran's nuclear program was just for peaceful purposes or not. During his last report released in mid-November, ElBaradei said "Iran has made substantial progress in revealing the nature and extent of its disputed nuclear program, but needs to be more pro-active in providing information."

The United States has accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, which Iran has denied. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

The UN Security Council has adopted two resolutions -- one in December 2006 and the other in March of 2007 -- to force Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities and to give up its nuclear programs.

The U.S. and some of its allies have never ruled out the possibility of a military attack if diplomatic means fail to solve the nuclear issue, but local analysts have said it was almost impossible in the near future after the release of a U.S. intelligence report last month that concluded Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in late 2003 and had not resumed it since.
(Xinhua News Agency January 12, 2008)

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