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Iran to give time soon for atom plant inspection: TV

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will soon inform the U.N. nuclear watchdog of a timetable for inspection of a newly disclosed uranium enrichment plant, its atomic energy agency chief was quoted as saying.

Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation Ali Akbar Salehi makes a speech at the 53rd International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA General Conference in Vienna September 14, 2009. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

State Press TV said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, made the comment late Monday, three days before crucial talks between Tehran and world powers worried about the Islamic state’s nuclear ambitions.

“Yes, the inspectors will come and inspect,” Salehi said, adding Tehran was in constant contact with the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“We are working out a timetable for the inspection and we will soon be writing a letter to them about the location of the facility and others,” he said, without elaborating.

Last week’s news of a second nuclear fuel facility, under construction south of Tehran, added urgency to the rare meeting in Geneva Thursday. Iran’s missile tests Sunday and Monday added to tension with Western powers.

U.S. President Barack Obama has demanded that Iran come clean on its disputed nuclear program and a White House spokesman Monday urged “immediate unfettered access” to the new site.

Iran has rejected Western condemnation of the new facility, saying it is legal and open to IAEA inspection.

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Press TV, Iran’s English-language state television, said Salehi had noted that the plant was under construction within the framework of IAEA regulations, saying: “Iran has taken all the precautionary steps to safeguard its nuclear facilities.”

“Salehi said that his country will try to resolve the issue both politically and technically with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) and the IAEA,” Press TV said on its website.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, told the BBC Monday he had had a couple of meetings with IAEA inspectors and it was agreed they would be given access to the site “in the near future.” He gave no date.

The United States and its Western allies have made clear they will focus on Iran’s nuclear program at the Geneva meeting. Iran has offered wide-ranging security talks but says it will not discuss its nuclear “rights.”

Washington suspects Iran is trying to develop nuclear bomb capability. Iran, a major oil producer, says its nuclear work is solely for generating electricity.

“It is against our tenets, it is against our religion to produce, use, hold or have nuclear weapons or arsenal, how can we more clearly state our position, since 1974 we have been saying this,” Press TV quoted Salehi as saying.

Reporting by Fredrik Dahl