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Report: U.N. Nuclear Chief Visits Iran

July 9, 2003

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ The head of the U.N. nuclear agency arrived in Iran on Wednesday for talks in which he is expected to urge the government to allow unfettered inspections of its nuclear sites, state-run Tehran radio reported.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is scheduled to meet President Mohammad Khatami and the head of Iran’s nuclear program.

ElBaradei has said he wants Iran to sign an additional protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The protocol would give the agency’s inspectors the right to visit any Iranian nuclear site without prior notice.

ElBaradei is also expected to urge the government to permit inspectors to take environmental samples at a location where it has allegedly enriched uranium _ a process that can be used to produce nuclear weapons.

The United States suspects Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb, and has called for greater transparency on its nuclear program.

Iran denies ambitions to build a nuclear bomb. It insists its nuclear program is for the peaceful purpose of generating electrical power, particularly after its oil reserves dwindle.

Its government has said it would agree to unfettered inspections if it is granted access to advanced nuclear technology. Iran accuses Washington of using its influence with other nuclear empowered nations to block the sale of such technology.

Iran is in the final stages of building its first nuclear power plant outside the southern city of Bushehr.

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