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IAEA chief to visit Iran over enrichment site

The head of the UN nuclear agency will arrive in Iran today to discuss a timetable for inspectors to visit a newly disclosed nuclear enrichment plant, a senior official said.

world Updated: Oct 03, 2009 16:38 IST

The head of the UN nuclear agency will arrive in Iran on Saturday to discuss a timetable for inspectors to visit a newly disclosed nuclear enrichment plant, a senior official said.

"Mohamed ElBaradei will discuss details over the agency's inspections of the new enrichment site," the official, who declined to be named, told Reuters. "He will not visit any nuclear site during his trip to Iran."

The trip takes place two days after Iran agreed with six world powers in Geneva to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors unfettered access to the enrichment plant near the Shi'ite holy city of Qom.

The West suspects the Islamic state is seeking to build bombs. Iran insists it needs nuclear technology to generate power to meet booming domestic demand.

Tehran denies the West's accusations that its second uranium enrichment plant under construction was clandestine.

ElBaradei has said Iran was "on the wrong side of the law" in failing to declare the plant as soon as plans were drawn up.

The Geneva meeting, to be followed by more talks in late October, eased tension over Iran's nuclear intentions. But Western powers said Iran should offer more transparency at the second meeting to prevent tougher UN sanctions.

The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany took part in the Geneva meeting. Moscow and Beijing, major trade partners of Iran, have long opposed harsh sanctions against Iran.

ElBaradei was last in Iran in January 2008 to negotiate the implementation of Iranian steps, still incomplete, to clarify concerns about its nuclear programme.

Western officials said Iran had agreed "in principle" on Thursday to ship out most of its enriched uranium for reprocessing in Russia and France. It would then be returned to power a Tehran reactor that makes medical isotopes.

Iran has repeatedly rejected demands to halt uranium enrichment, which can have both military or civilian purposes, or even freeze it at current levels of output.