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Iran Promises More Collaboration with U.N. Atomic Watchdog

Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi on Monday speaks at the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference in Vienna, Austria (AP Photo/Hans Punz). Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi on Monday speaks at the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference in Vienna, Austria (AP Photo/Hans Punz).

A senior Iranian official on Monday said his nation would bolster collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is set this month to make its first attempt under Iran's new president to negotiate a path forward for a long-stalled nuclear probe, Reuters reported.

President Hassan Rouhani, who took office last month, has suggested he would aim through parallel discussions to eliminate international fears that his nation's nuclear program is geared toward development of an atomic-weapons capability. A "like-minded" Iranian negotiating staff is now in place and could "facilitate the resolution" of concerns at a still-unscheduled meeting with six major governments, Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi said at the IAEA General Conference in Vienna, Austria.

"This time we are coming with a more full-fledged ... desire for this," Salehi said.

The official avoided stating whether Tehran might stop purifying uranium to a level suited for fast conversion into nuclear-bomb fuel. "These are issues that will be discussed during the negotiations" with the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany, he said.

Russia's top diplomat, though, said Tehran is prepared to address during the multilateral discussions its production of uranium that is 20 percent enriched.

"This would be a very important step. It is of fundamental importance that the six powers react adequately to this potential agreement," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow.

Meanwhile, President Obama on Friday confirmed to ABC News that he had swapped written messages with Rouhani.

The standoff over Iran's nuclear program "is a far larger issue for us than the [Syrian] chemical weapons issue," Obama said in an interview aired on Sunday. "The threat ... against Israel, that a nuclear Iran poses, is much closer to our core interests. That -- a nuclear arms race in the region -- is something that would be profoundly destabilizing."

Iran appears to understand it could still face a military strike over its disputed atomic efforts, Obama said. "[What] they should draw from this lesson is that there is the potential of resolving these issues diplomatically."

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