UN nuclear watchdog delegation arrives in Iran

A UN nuclear watchdog delegation arrived in Iran today to see if the Tehran government is willing to answer all outstanding questions about its disputed nuclear programme, state television reported.

A UN nuclear watchdog delegation arrived in Iran today to see if the Tehran government is willing to answer all outstanding questions about its disputed nuclear programme, state television reported.

The report said a “high-ranking” five-member delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, headed by Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen arrived in Tehran for a two-day visit.

Mr Heinonen would meet Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, today, the report said.

The delegation would not inspect Iran’s nuclear facilities, and conclusion of the talks would be announced yesterday, according to the TV report.

The visit comes after Mr Larijani and IAEA Chief Mohammad ElBaradei met last month in Vienna, Austria. It also comes two days after Mr ElBaradei said Iran had scaled back its uranium enrichment programme, suggesting a new willingness from the government to resolve the international stand-off over its nuclear defiance.

Members of the UN Security Council are preparing to debate a third set of sanctions against the Islamic republic in response to Tehran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for civilian energy or fissile material for a bomb.

Speaking in Vienna on Monday, Mr ElBaradei said if Iran finally honoured its promise to resolve questions surrounding its program and froze all enrichment activities, “this would influence the actions” of the six nations – the five permanent council members and Germany, suggesting that the council would hold off on new sanctions.

Tehran insists it wants to develop an enrichment programme to generate energy, but the US and some of its allies fear that it could misuse it to produce the fissile core of nuclear warheads.

Iran has said it is ready to remove the ambiguities related to its nuclear activities through negotiations but rejects enrichment suspension, a condition set by the West for resumption of talks on the case.

The Security Council first imposed sanctions on Iran in December and modestly increased them in March over Iran’s refusal to suspend enrichment.

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