Iran signs accord allowing unannounced inspections of nuclear facilities
Iran signed a key accord Thursday opening its nuclear facilities to unfettered and unannounced inspections.
The signing came after months of pressure from European nations and a U.S. push for Iran to be slapped with U.S. sanctions.
Iranian representative Ali Akbar Salehi and Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, signed the agreement at the IAEA's headquarters in Vienna.
The agreement, tacked on to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, requires Iran to submit to intrusive and surprise U.N. inspections of its nuclear complexes and research facilities.
Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful and geared only toward producing electricity. The United States has accused Tehran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons.
"We have agreed to sign ... 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.
According to The AP, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday that Washington welcomed Iran's signing of the pact, but cautioned that it was "only one step toward resolving the remaining open questions about Iran's nuclear program."
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