Iran: Inspections OK if Dossier Returned

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer Sat Apr 29, 7:36 PM ET

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran said on Saturday it would allow United Nations inspectors to resume snap inspections of its nuclear facilities, but only if the dispute again went before the U.N. nuclear monitor.

The White House rejected the offer, which apparently came as Iran sought to avoid a full-blown U.N. debate over sanctions.

"Today's statement does not change our position that the Iranian government must give up its nuclear ambitions, nor does it affect our decision to move forward to the United Nations Security Council," said Blaine Rethmeier, a White House spokesman.

Russia, which has steadfastly opposed possible sanctions against Iran, joined the international chorus in telling Iran it must stop nuclear enrichment.

Iran's offer to open itself to nuclear inspections was issued a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear monitor, confirmed the Iranians successfully produced enriched uranium and had defied the Friday U.N. Security Council deadline to freeze the process.

Iran gave no ground on the enrichment program but offered to reopen it to IAEA inspectors were the Security Council to drop the matter.

"If the issue is returned to the International Atomic Energy Agency, we will be ready to allow intrusive inspections," Mohammed Saeedi, Iran's deputy nuclear chief, told state-run television.

Enriched uranium, depending on the degree of processing, can be used to fuel either civilian power plants or to make nuclear weapons.

While Iran insists it has no plans to make weapons and does not need or want them, the United States, Britain and France suspect the program is aimed at producing nuclear warheads.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who did not alter Russia's opposition to sanctions, told his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, that Tehran must stop enriching uranium and work with the IAEA, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

But Saeedi said Iran was pushing forward with further technological developments.

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

Iran barred intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities in February after it was referred to the U.N. Security Council for not fully cooperating with U.N. monitors.

Tehran subsequently announced that it had successfully enriched uranium for the first time — a significant step toward large-scale production of nuclear fuel.