TEHRAN 3 Oct. (IPS)  As inspectors from the United Nations nuclear watchdog are expected to arrive in Tehran tonight for making sure that Iran’s claim that its atomic programs are for peaceful projects, former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani shed more light on Iran’s conditions for signing the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), saying they might be the same as those set by the United States. Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani

            "We also have conditions [for signing the additional protocol] and our conditions may be the same as those which the US has declared in its talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)", Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani told worshipers in a sermon at Tehran Friday prayers.

            He recalled US conditions that its signing the protocol must not “jeopardize its security, values and sanctities, and that it must not lead to investigation of issues that are not related to the nuclear energy”.

"We have not yet declared our conditions, but I think these are the cornerstone of our conditions", said the influential cleric, considered as the regime’s number two man, quoted by the official news agency IRNA.

The Islamic Republic is already a signatory to the NPT. However, the IAEA is refusing to provide Iran with the nuclear expertise that under the agency’s regulations it is entitled to receive, IRNA observed in its dispatch. 

On 12 September, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors gave Iran until the end of October to sign the Protocol and stop “immediately’ all its uranium enriching programs.

 But Iran says it needs to receive guarantees before signing the Protocol that allows atomic inspectors unrestricted access to all Iranian atomic sites and projects at will and without prior warnings.

 The 12 September Resolution, formulated by Australia, Japan and Canada also warns Iran that if it fails to comply with the IAEA’s demand and is not able to convince that its nuclear programs are not for military purposes, the matter would be sent to the United Nations Security Council for final decision, that could includes imposing international sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

            Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani called the IAEA Board of Governors "hypocrite, deceitful and opportunist", stressing that this issue is "very ugly and dangerous" for world powers and their image in the international arena.

 Afraid of an embargo that could lead to possible uprising by the Iranian population against a clerical-led regime that is rejected by the majority of the population, mostly the young generation, Iranian officials are doing their best to avoid the issue being treated at the Security Council.

“We must do our best to see that the problem (of Iran’s nuclear programs) is not sent to the United Nations”, stressed foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Wednesday on his return from New York, where he attended the UN’s General Assembly.

            “We might sign the Protocol if the sanctions imposed by the West are removed and that nuclear powers help the Islamic Republic attain nuclear technology to satisfy its energy needs”, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani repeated during the traditional Friday prayers.

             Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani further refreshed vows that Iran would not pursue atomic weapons, stressing that these weapons are against the religious teachings of Iranians and all the Muslims.

 "Just as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khameneh‘i has declared, we consider using atomic weapons as haram (forbidden) according to the Islamic sanctities and the principles of our religion", he said, but without explaining when Islam forbade an arm that had not been discovered, nor spelling out why Pakistan, the first Islam-based nation, has developed its atomic bomb.

 "We have always been committed to this. Yet, it is regrettable that there is a ballyhoo against Iran in the world even though we have explicitly announced that the Islamic Republic only wants to use the nuclear technology for peaceful purposes".

Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani spelled out for the first time Iran’s conditions for signing the controversial Protocols as Dr. Mohammad el-Bradeh’i, the Egyptian director of IAEA had said that the Protocol is not the central issue, but Iran’s nuclear programs and above all, its enriching uranium activities.

Meanwhile, the British news agency Reuters quoted Friday U.N. experts saying that if Iran has an atomic weapons program they will find evidence of it.

            Technical experts from the IAEA flew into Iran ahead of an Oct. 31 deadline to prove the country has no secret atomic bomb program.

            Washington alleges that it does while Tehran says it does not.

             "If you handle weapons-grade materials, trace amounts get out", said Therese Renis, a technical specialist at the IAEA, quoted by Reuters.

Such inspections have already yielded suspicious results in Iran -- traces of arms-grade highly enriched uranium at two nuclear sites. This has fueled suspicions that Tehran has been secretly purifying uranium for use in a bomb, which Iran denies.

 The Iranians say the uranium came from contaminated machinery purchased abroad. But this explanation has met with widespread skepticism. 

But IAEA experts say Iran is not the first country to claim that the discovery of arms-grade material is due to contamination. ENDS IAEA IRAN INSPECTIONS 31003