Among the conditions are the exclusion of searches of non-nuclear military sites and places of worship.

"The conditions we would impose for signing the protocol are the same as those imposed by the United States," Rafsanjani said, in reference to pressure for Iran to sign an additional protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which allows for tougher inspections.

This would signify "that our national security not be endangered, that our (Islamic) values and our sacred sites not be affected, that (military) secrets unconnected with the nuclear programme not be revealed and that others fulfil their duty" to assist Iran with its civilian nuclear programme.

It is the first time that an Iranian official has suggested that it would give the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stricter control over the nuclear programme and permission to inspect sites unannounced, with or without Tehran’s approval.

US yet to ratify protocol

Although the United States has yet to ratify the protocol that 80 nations have already signed, diplomats stress that no country has imposed conditions.

The board of governors of the IAEA gave Iran until 31 October to guarantee it will not develop atomic weapons under the cover of its civil nuclear programme.

Officials want to prevent the issue from being forwarded to the UN Security Council, which in turn could sanction Iran for its non-compliance.

The ultimatum is contained in a resolution which calls on Tehran to sign, ratify and immediately implement without condition the additional protocol of the NPT and "notwithstanding trust, to conform with it here and now."

Tehran fiercely denies allegations that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, and asserts it is merely exercising its right to develop nuclear power to meet future energy needs.