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Iran offers to answer nuclear questions

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran said Sunday it would work to settle disputes over its atomic program if its case went back to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency – a stance far from Western demands that it suspend uranium enrichment.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Iran could agree to settle outstanding issues with the International Atomic Energy Agency, but only if the U.N. Security Council turned the country’s nuclear file over to the U.N. watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and dropped preparations to debate further sanctions.

The news comes days after an official in Spain said Iran had pledged to end years of stonewalling and provide answers about past suspicious nuclear activities to the IAEA.

If Iran were to follow through on that pledge, it could help the IAEA end years of efforts to establish whether Iran’s nuclear strivings were exclusively peaceful in nature – as Iran insists.

But Hosseini’s comments and the offer, which Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani made to the EU’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, during talks in Madrid last week, fell short of the Security Council’s demands that Iran freeze uranium enrichment.

The Security Council first imposed sanctions on Iran in December and modestly increased them in March over Iran’s refusal to suspend enrichment. The council is now preparing to debate more punitive measures.

Iran’s ultimate stated goal is running 54,000 centrifuges to churn out enriched uranium for what it says is power generation. But the U.S. and Israel accuse Iran of seeking to use the technology to develop nuclear weapons.


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