April 12, 2008 / 12:27 PM / 12 years ago

Iran top nuclear official to meet ElBaradei: IRNA

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A top Iranian official will discuss his country’s disputed nuclear program with the U.N. atomic watchdog boss Mohamed ElBaradei in Vienna this week, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei in Vienna March 3, 2008. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

IRNA said the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, would meet on Monday with ElBaradei, the head of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany will meet on April 16 in Shanghai to discuss whether to sweeten incentives they offered Iran in 2006 to curb its nuclear program, which they fear could produce a bomb.

Iran announced on Tuesday it had expanded its nuclear work by starting to install 6,000 more centrifuges, defying international demands to halt the sensitive atomic work.

The Islamic state launched 3,000 centrifuges, a basis for industrial scale enrichment, in its Natanz facility last year. But they are a 1970s-vintage design prone to breakdown.

Centrifuges spin compounds of uranium at supersonic speed to separate out and concentrate the most radioactive isotope of the element.

The Security Council has since 2006 imposed three rounds of limited sanctions on Tehran for refusing to stop enriching uranium, which can be used as fuel in power plants or provide material for nuclear weapons if refined further.

Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, says it wants nuclear power to generate electricity to meet booming demand.

In March, Tehran rejected a call by world powers for more nuclear talks with their envoy and said it would in future discuss its uranium enrichment program only with the IAEA.

Under a deal reached in August between IAEA and Iran, the Islamic state agreed to remove concerns about its nuclear work.

A February 22 IAEA report said improved Iranian cooperation had helped inspectors resolve all but one question about its past work: Iran had not explained intelligence on alleged explosives and missile studies applicable to atom bombs.

Iran has ruled out halting or limiting its nuclear work in exchange for trade and other incentives.

Writing by Zahra Hosseinian; Editing by Stephen Weeks

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