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Iran Willing to Sign Nuclear Agreement

Paraphrased by:
Steve Waldrop
December 18, 2003

Iran will sign a major agreement opening its nuclear facilities to outside scrutiny, the U.N. atomic agency said, ending weeks of speculation that Tehran was stalling despite mounting Western pressure and a threat of sanctions.

Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and an unidentified Iranian government official will sign the pact December 18 at UAEA headquarters in Vienna, the agency said.

The Tehran regime, which announced the signing earlier, made clear it was laying to rest suspicions that it was reluctant to comply with Western demands for full openness.

Since October, Iran repeatedly has said it would sign the accord, but its failure to follow through had led some foreign diplomats in Vienna to question its sincerity.

"We have agreed to give a strong response to accusations against us and demonstrate that our nuclear activities are peaceful," VIce President Gholamreza Aghazadeh told reporters in Tehran.

The agreement, tacked on to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, requires Iran to submit to intrusive and unannounced U.N. inspections of its nuclear complexes and research facilities.

Iran recently agreed to open suspect sites that up to now have been off limits and to let IAEA inspectors conduct surprise checks to ensure the country is not trying to develop atomic weaponry.