Iran to allow snap atomic inspections if case returned to IAEA

Iran's deputy nuclear chief said Saturday that Tehran would agree to United Nations supervision of its uranium enrichment process and intrusive inspections of its atomic facilities if its case was referred back to the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The offer came a day after the U.S. called a summit of foreign ministers from Germany and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in New York on May 9 to discuss a united response to Iran's nuclear program.

But Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said Iran would not yield to UN demands that it abandon uranium enrichment, and criticised the report by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

ElBaradei said UN checks in Iran had been hampered and Tehran had rebuffed requests to stop making nuclear fuel.

"The report was not completely satisfactory for us and we believe that the report could have been done better than that," Saeedi told state television.

However, Saeedi insisted Iran would be able to answer ElBaradei's concerns about the access granted to UN inspectors if Tehran's nuclear dossier were dropped by the UN Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions.

Besides standing firm on enrichment, Saeedi also said Iran was pushing forward with further technological developments.

Iran was installing two more 164-centrifuge cascades at its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, central Iran.

"[Uranium enrichment in] Natanz is continuing its work well... two other cascades [of 164-machine centrifuges] are being installed," Saeedi said.

Scientists were also studying more advanced centrifuges than those Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced research on earlier this month. The more sophisticated equipment speeds up the enrichment process.

"What we are conducting research on is not only P-2 but even more advanced machines," Saeedi said, adding that Iran had not moved beyond using the P-1 centrifuges.

"Our efforts are to use the most sophisticated machines, like in Germany, Netherlands, Japan and Brazil," he said.

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