updated 1/8/2006 6:30:34 AM ET 2006-01-08T11:30:34

Iran said Sunday that inspectors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency would remove seals from some nuclear facilities by Monday, opening the way for Tehran to resume research on fuel production.

The development heightened concerns in the West that Iran was moving toward building atomic weapons.

“Iran is ready to resume the research activities after the inspectors remove the seals,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said. “It is our right as (much as) other members of the Nonproliferation Treaty. Iran should not be exempted.”

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Tehran on Saturday to remove seals from the research sites. Iran told the IAEA last week it would resume research Monday.

Iranian officials said talks with the inspectors over restarting the research could wrap up by Monday, the official Islamic Republic News Agency said. Iran has not specified what research it will resume.

Tehran says its nuclear program is for electricity generation, while the United States and Europe suspect Iran is moving to produce nuclear bombs. The United States and France have pushed for taking Iran before the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions if Tehran is found in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty.

Asefi said Iran’s research would respect regulations set by the U.N. watchdog and the treaty. “The activities will be under supervision of the agency, therefore there is nothing to be worried about,” he said.

Javier Solana, the EU foreign and security affairs chief, warned Iran on Saturday that if it resumes its uranium enrichment program, it may doom any further negotiations with the EU over economic aid and other issues.

Russian officials were also in Iran for talks on Moscow’s proposal that the two countries conduct uranium enrichment on Russian territory. The process can produce nuclear fuel for reactors or atomic weapons depending on the degree of enrichment.

The Russian proposal, backed by the European Union and the United States, was designed to ease concerns that Iran would use the fuel to build a bomb.

Iran still has “questions on the proposal that the Russian side could not convincingly answer,” the official news agency reported, without providing details.

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