- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 9, 2003

TEHRAN (Agence France-Presse) — Iran will implement its pledge to suspend uranium-enrichment activities in line with demands from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday.

“In the course of the coming days, Iran will implement and announce the suspension of uranium enrichment,” Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters, without giving further details.

The IAEA in September asked Iran to do three main things ahead of a Nov. 20 board meeting: fully disclose its nuclear program, agree to tougher inspections, and suspend the enrichment of uranium that could be used to make an atomic bomb.

Iran already has made what it says is a full declaration of its nuclear program, and says it will send a letter next week to the Vienna, Austria,-based watchdog, stating its intention to sign an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that would subject it to a vigorous inspections regime.

Iran agreed to comply with the demands on Oct. 21, when the British, French and German foreign ministers visited Tehran to seek a way out of the dispute over the country’s bid to generate nuclear power — seen by the United States as a cover for secret weapons development.

A suspension of enrichment activities is seen as crucial by the IAEA as it tries to fully uncover the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

The problem centers on traces of highly enriched uranium that IAEA inspectors found at two sites in Iran during previous visits.

The Iranians say the particles came from contamination from equipment they bought aboard, but the IAEA wants enrichment inside Iran to be halted while it verifies the equipment, and also pending Iran’s submission to the tougher safeguards enshrined by the additional protocol.

Although Iran is expected to declare its readiness to sign the text, the country’s top national security official said yesterday that IAEA inspectors will not be granted access to sites in Iran that are not related to its nuclear program.

“Next week, the Islamic Republic of Iran will give a letter on the additional protocol,” Hassan Rowhani, who as secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council is charged with the nuclear dossier, told state television.

“In this letter, we will state that the IAEA will not be permitted to enter sites that are not linked to Iran’s nuclear activities.”

Although Mr. Rowhani appeared to be attaching conditions to the application of the additional protocol, a diplomat close to the discussions emphasized there was no need for immediate alarm that Iran was making some kind of U-turn.

“Iran can express reservations, but the text of the additional protocol is standard,” said the diplomat, who asked not to be named.

The source explained that once Iran signed the text, it would be subject only to unlimited inspections of declared facilities related to its nuclear activities.

As for suspect sites, he said, the IAEA would have to respect a specific procedure for securing visits.

Iran raised concerns over visits to military and holy sites, citing national security and sovereignty concerns, when the European ministers visited.

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