Iran: Pact On Nukes Verification

Iranian flag overlaid with fallout symbol. nukes nuclear weapons Iran
Representatives of the U.N. nuclear watchdog reached "total agreement" with Iran on measures to prove the country's nuclear program is peaceful, a senior Iranian official said Saturday.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency had no immediate comment after an IAEA team completed key negotiations with the Iranians on their nuclear program.

The IAEA has set an Oct. 31 deadline for Iran to prove it is not producing nuclear weapons - as the United States strongly suspects. Iran has protested the deadline and said its nuclear program is to generate electricity as its oil reserves decline.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's representative to the IAEA, did not say whether Tehran would meet the deadline. But he told The Associated Press that Iran has already addressed some of the IAEA's questions about its nuclear program and would respond to new questions "in the shortest possible time."

"The train has started to move and we have agreed to push the train to move faster," Salehi said.

He said Iran and the IAEA had "approved a plan of action" by which they would work out "a timetable to achieve the expected results."

"The two sides reached total agreement," he said, adding that the agency's delegation left Tehran on Friday "with complete satisfaction."

Pierre Goldschmidt, an IAEA deputy director general, and another top agency official held two days of talks in Tehran. An IAEA inspection team is also in Tehran to carry out routine inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, Salehi said.

Iran agreed to provide the IAEA with a list of imported equipment that had been contaminated, he said.

In recent weeks Iran has twice confirmed that particles of weapons-grade uranium had been found in separate places in the country. The government said the particles came from imported nuclear equipment that had been contaminated.

"The Oct. 31 deadline is not the plan of action for us," Salehi said. "The important thing is that we've reached agreements to work together and there was a breakthrough in the talks."

Failure to satisfy the IAEA would result in Iran's being referred to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions.

President Mohammad Khatami said Thursday that "in spite of the recent hue and cry, Iran is not worried about showing transparency in its peaceful nuclear program."

Officials have said Iran would do all it could to avoid being reported to the Security Council, but have stressed that they have the right to develop a peaceful nuclear program.

Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which bans the spread of nuclear weapons.