Saturday, April 08, 2006

Iran nuclear checks set to start

BBC News:
UN nuclear inspectors are set to start work in Iran amid mounting pressure for Tehran to halt its research work.

The five-strong team will be joined within a few days by UN nuclear watchdog head Mohamed ElBaradei.

The inspectors will visit locations including the Natanz uranium enrichment plant and another facility at Isfahan. READ MORE

The UN has given Iran a 30-day deadline to freeze its research. Tehran insists it has every right to the work as its nuclear intentions are peaceful.

Mr ElBaradei will report back to the UN Security Council on Iran's response to its demands.

A senior nuclear negotiator in Tehran said Mr ElBaradei was expected in the Iranian capital on Sunday or Monday.

"ElBaradei will hold talks with a number of Iranian officials during his stay and Iran's outstanding issues with the IAEA will be discussed," said the statement, reported by state news agency IRNA.

A senior official at the watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Mr ElBaradei would meet senior Iranian officials for talks on confidence-building measures.

The visit would provide Iran with an opportunity to come forward with information required by the IAEA "to fill in the gaps in the history of Iran's nuclear activities", the official said.

Research work

Iran resumed its research at Natanz in January, ignoring international pressure to maintain a moratorium on research.

It also scrapped snap inspections of its nuclear sites, but has said it is continuing to co-operate with the IAEA.

The West suspects Iran's long-term aim is to build nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran firmly denies.

The Security Council has given Iran 30 days to halt its research again, or run the risk of action such as possible sanctions.

The deadline was imposed on 29 March, and so far Iran has insisted its work will go on.