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Iran wants to trade IAEA cooperation for right to nuclear energy

TEHRAN, February 20 (RIA Novosti) - Iran will open its nuclear facilities to the UN nuclear watchdog for short-notice inspections only after its right to civilian nuclear power is recognized, an MP said Wednesday.

In 2003, Tehran signed a protocol, which it has not yet ratified, stipulating that the Islamic republic would open all its nuclear facilities for short-notice inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"The ratification of the additional protocol is possible only if Iran's official right to civilian atomic energy in the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] is recognized," Kazem Jalali, a spokesman for the parliamentary commission on foreign policy and security, said.

The West suspects Iran of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program, but the Islamic republic has insisted it needs nuclear power for solely civilian purposes.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said late last year that Iran would gain "a greatness that is 100 times more precious than nuclear energy," if it could withstand pressure from the West over its nuclear program.

"Confronting those who speak in the language of aggression... is more important than the possession of know-how in the nuclear sphere," the president said on November 21 at a rally at Ardebil, a city in the northeast of Iran.

Two sets of UN sanctions against Tehran are in effect, and a new draft resolution mulling additional sanctions is being considered.

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