Thursday, June 09, 2005

Iran opens nuclear site to inspectors
Inspectors from the United Nations nuclear watchdog have arrived in Iran to visit an underground facility and verify that Tehran has suspended all uranium enrichment activities there, diplomats said. READ MORE

Work on uranium enrichment at the Natanz facility in central Iran has been suspended since November under a pact with France, Britain and Germany, which are offering Tehran incentives to give up enrichment permanently.

Iran, which says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, has said the freeze at Natanz and elsewhere would last only until the end of July, when the EU trio has promised to give Iran a detailed package of incentives.

Diplomats said inspectors from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) want to check Iran has kept its word on suspending uranium enrichment, a process of purifying fuel for use in nuclear power plants or weapons.

Iran has stuck to the letter of its agreement, the diplomats said, who declined to be named.

However, Tehran has quietly continued construction activity at Natanz to prepare for the day when they might want to resume enrichment, they said.

A Western diplomat said the work was not a violation of the EU suspension agreement but did show Iran was "serious about wanting to pursue enrichment at Natanz".