The UN nuclear watchdog’s spokesman, Mark Gwozdecky, told AFP on Tuesday Iran had signalled willingness to discuss signing an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

This would would pave the way for surprise inspections.

Iran's decision was included and praised in an IAEA report on its nuclear program that was released to the body's board of governors Tuesday, he said. 

Alleged weapons programme

The international community has been pressing Iran to sign an additional protocol to the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty that would allow UN nuclear inspectors to carry out unannounced spotchecks.

The IAEA announcement comes less than two weeks after Iranian authorities gave the go-ahead for the launch of the second phase of its controversial nuclear power plant in southern Bushehr.

Brushing aside global concerns over its alleged nuclear weapons programme, Iran’s Atomic Energy Council authorised its Atomic Energy Organisation to take measures and start the contracts for the second phase.

The United States has accused Iran of pursuing a hidden nuclear weapons programme.

Iran says its nuclear ambition is solely for peaceful purposes.