msnbc.com news services
updated 6/2/2004 2:31:32 PM ET 2004-06-02T18:31:32

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator said on Wednesday that U.N. inspections to determine whether the country is seeking an atomic bomb -- as the United States suspects -- are nearing an end.

“This report shows that Iran’s nuclear case is approaching the end and there are no more important issues,” Hassan Rohani told a news conference, referring to a report from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

He said the U.N. nuclear watchdog was welcome to continue inspections, although Iran had earlier asked for inspectors to finish their work by June.

Rohani added that Iran had bought no parts from abroad for ”P2” centrifuges that can produce bomb-grade uranium twice as fast as earlier “P1” types.

The IAEA said Iran had made inquiries through a European intermediary to buy magnets for P2 centrifuges. The machines cannot enrich uranium without these magnets.

Rohani, however, said these were for the earlier P1 type and for other industrial uses.

“We are insisting we have not bought P2 parts from abroad,” he told reporters.

Concerns over Iran’s nuclear program mounted after IAEA inspectors found traces of highly enriched uranium at two Iranian sites. Iran said the uranium was already on equipment imported from abroad.

Questions over P-2 centrifuges
Nearly two years after the discovery of Iran’s secret nuclear programs, clearing up all questions about the origins and potential uses of the P-2 centrifuges and where the enriched uranium contamination came from is imperative, the IAEA said in a report.

The confidential document was prepared for a June 14 board of governors’ meeting of the IAEA and was made available Tuesday to news agencies.

“The agency continues to make progress in gaining a comprehensive understanding of Iran’s nuclear program, but a number of issues remain outstanding,” the report said. Among them, it said, were the issues of where the traces of enriched uranium came from, and a lack of information on Iran’s centrifuge program.

“Important information about the P-2 centrifuge program has frequently required repeated requests, and in some cases continues to involve changing or contradictory information,” the report said.

Answering those questions “is of key importance to the agency’s ability to provide the international community with the required assurances about Iran’s nuclear activities,” it said.

Iran agreed last year, under international pressure, to suspend uranium enrichment and allow intrusive inspections of its nuclear facilities, but the United States and other western nations say it continues to harbor secrets and has not given up its weapons ambitions.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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