TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's nuclear chief on Monday proposed to allow the U.N. nuclear watchdog "full supervision" of its nuclear activities for five years provided that sanctions against Tehran are lifted, but the official did not give details of his offer.
The United Nations has imposed four rounds of Security Council sanctions over Tehran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or materials for an atomic bomb.
Iran's nuclear program is already subject to routine IAEA inspections. IAEA cameras monitor Iran's nuclear activities. including its contentious uranium enrichment sites.
Vice President Fereidoun Abbasi told the semiofficial ISNA news agency, "We proposed that the agency keep Iran's nuclear program and activities under full supervision for five years provided that sanctions against Iran are lifted."
He didn't elaborate what he meant by "full supervision," or how far the International Atomic Energy Agency could go in trying to prevent Tehran's nuclear program from producing weapons. Iran has always insisted that its program is peaceful, but the IAEA has give successively stronger warnings over the years about potential military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program.
The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity and producing isotopes to treat medical patients.
Iran says it voluntarily implemented the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a confidence-building gesture, but its parliament passed legislation in 2007 forcing the government to end the cooperation after the country was referred to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.
Tehran says it remains committed to its obligations under NPT but is not required to allow intrusive inspections. The IAEA has countered by saying that a government cannot unilaterally abandon the agreement.
Under the Additional Protocol, a member state is obliged to notify IAEA when it begins to design a new nuclear facility.
Abbasi also charged that Iran is facing increasing "sabotage" in its nuclear program from its enemies.
"We've witnessed increasing acts of sabotage in our nuclear program ... they (the West) are constantly trying to harm our nuclear facilities through (computer) viruses, sale of flawed equipment, etc.," ISNA quoted him as saying.
Last year, a powerful virus known as Stuxnet targeted Iran's nuclear facilities and other industrial sites.
Iran has acknowledged that Stuxnet affected a limited number of centrifuges – a key component in the production of nuclear fuel – at its main uranium enrichment facility in the central city of Natanz. But Tehran has said its scientists discovered and neutralized the malware before it could cause serious damage.