Iran will not retreat "one iota" on its nuclear rights, but it is ready to co-operate on issues regarding atomic fuel, power plants and technology, the president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today. He said the provision of nuclear fuel for a Tehran research reactor was an opportunity for Iran to evaluate the "honesty" of world powers and the UN nuclear agency watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He was speaking on the day Iran was expected to present its formal response to a UN-drafted nuclear fuel deal which is meant to help ease tension over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme. Iranian media say Tehran will accept the framework of the deal, but also demand changes to it.
"As long as this government is in power, it will not retreat one iota on the undeniable rights of the Iranian nation," Mr Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the northeastern city of Mashhad, broadcast live on state television. "Fortunately, conditions have been prepared for international co-operation in the nuclear field," he said. "We welcome co-operation on nuclear fuel, power plants and technology and we are ready to co-operate."
Meanwhile, a team of UN nuclear inspectors returned today from a visit to a previously secret Iranian uranium enrichment site and their leader expressed satisfaction with the mission. What the inspectors saw and how freely they were allowed to work will be key in deciding whether six world powers engaging Iran seek a new round of talks. The Fordo site is near the holy city of Qom. Iran revealed it was building it on September 21 in a confidential letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Just days later, the leaders of the US, Britain and France condemned Tehran for having kept it secret.
"We had a good trip," said Herman Nackaerts, who headed the International Atomic Energy Agency inspection team. Mr Nackaerts said the nuclear agency planned to analyse the data from the visit, adding that the IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei would "then report in due time" on the results. The team's findings will be presented as part of a report to the IAEA's 35-nation governing board. Beyond that, Mr ElBaradei is expected to brief the six countries - the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - attempting to persuade Iran to freeze enrichment. The visit was the first independent look inside the enrichment plant, a former ammunition dump burrowed into the treeless hills south of Tehran.