UN experts in Iran to visit uranium enrichment plant

A team of U.N. inspectors is in Iran to visit a recently revealed but still unfinished uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom to verify it is for peaceful purposes.

UN experts in Iran to visit uranium enrichment plant

A team of U.N. inspectors is in Iran to visit a recently revealed but still unfinished uranium enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom to verify it is for peaceful purposes.

"They arrived late last night for routine inspections," Ali Shirzadian, a spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, told Reuters on Sunday. He gave no further details.

The U.N. experts were due to inspect Iran's second enrichment plant, under construction 160 km (100 miles) south of Tehran.

Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants and also to provide material for bombs if enriched further.

Iran, which says it wants only peaceful nuclear energy, agreed to open the new site to monitoring at talks with six world powers held in Geneva on Oct. 1.

Influential Iranian lawmakers have criticised the U.N.-drafted nuclear fuel agreement, in comments echoed by an Iranian diplomat on Sunday.

Abolfazl Zorehvand, a former ambassador to Italy, said the plan amounted to a kind of suspension of Iran's enrichment work -- a demand the Islamic state has repeatedly rejected.

"If we want to enrich this amount again it would take at least 18 months. During these 18 months they will have time to pressure Iran again and push us in the direction they want to," the official IRNA news agency quoted Zorehvand as saying.

"These signals from the West create mistrust," he said.

Iran has said the centrifuge plant being built in a military compound near the Shi'ite holy city of Qom will refine uranium only for civilian nuclear energy.

The four-strong team from the International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards division, led by Herman Nackaerts, who oversees the Middle East region including Iran, declined comment to reporters in Vienna before boarding their flight.

Their stay in Iran is likely to last several days.

The inspectors intend to compare engineering designs to be provided by Iran with the actual facility, interview employees and take environmental samples to verify the site has no illicit military dimension.

Last Mod: 25 Ekim 2009, 10:05
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