UN Pushes Disclosure in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran -- The UN atomic watchdog's top investigator on Monday began talks with Iranian officials, pressing them to explain Western intelligence that suggests Iran had covertly studied how to design nuclear bombs.

Iran's official IRNA news agency said Olli Heinonen, who arrived in Tehran on Monday, met Javad Vaeedi, deputy head of the Islamic Republic's Supreme National Security Council, behind closed doors.

During his two-day trip, Heinonen will not visit Iran's Natanz underground uranium enrichment facility, the agency said.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Heinonen's visit was intended to advance cooperation between Iran and the IAEA, the UN body investigating Iran's disputed nuclear ambitions.

"Such talks ... display Iran's policy and determination to carry on its technical and expertise cooperation with the IAEA," Soltanieh told the semiofficial Fars news agency.

Last week, U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged a united effort to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, possibly by expanding sanctions.

Iran says its nuclear program is a peaceful drive to produce electricity so that the world's fourth-largest crude exporter can sell more of its oil and gas abroad.