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Iran skips Vienna nuclear meeting

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ElBaradei acknowledges the right of Iran "to the peaceful use of nuclear technology."

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(CNN) -- Iran's delegation to the International Atomic Energy Agency abruptly left Vienna Thursday without attending a meeting in which delegation members were to explain the reasons behind Tehran's planned resumption of its nuclear program, IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.

"The meeting today was supposed to be about the clarification of Iran's 'R&D' (research and development) intentions in restarting their nuclear program," Fleming told CNN in a phone interview.

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization announced Tuesday it would restart its nuclear research program on January 9 to put idle atomic researchers back to work.

An IAEA statement Tuesday said Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general, acknowledged the right of Iran "to the peaceful use of nuclear technology."

"However, he continues to call on Iran to take the steps the IAEA requires to resolve outstanding issues regarding the nature of Iran's nuclear program," the statement said.

"In the meantime, Dr. ElBaradei also calls on Iran to take voluntary measures to build confidence, and enable the resumption of dialogue with all concerned parties."

Talks with France, Britain and Germany on Iran's nuclear activities were halted last year.

Fleming said the IAEA still would like to get some answers before Tehran takes any action on its program.

"We are still seeking clarification before they start these activities," she said.

Iran's nuclear programs are a source of contention with the West. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Sunday rejected a Russian offer to produce nuclear fuel in its plants for Iran, the latest effort to resolve a diplomatic impasse over Tehran's nuclear program.

Iran's hard-line conservative government insists it has the right to restart nuclear facilities and enrich uranium for the production of nuclear energy, despite fears expressed by some nations -- including the United States -- that Tehran's true goal is to produce nuclear weapons.

"Frankly, the patience of the international community is not infinite on this issue," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters Tuesday.

"Iran is trying to pursue nuclear weapons under the cover of a peaceful nuclear program. We do not think that should be allowed to happen."

Should Iran take any further enrichment-related steps, "the international community will have to take additional measures to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions," he said.

-- Journalist Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report

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