UN inspectors arrive in Iran for nuclear talks

By REUTERS
February 20, 2012 10:15

 
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TEHRAN - A team of UN inspectors arrived in Tehran on Monday for talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program, a day after the Islamic Republic ordered a halt to its oil sales to British and French companies in apparent retaliation for tightening EU sanctions.

Iran, which denies Western allegations that it is seeking to make nuclear weapons, has ramped up its rhetoric in recent weeks while also expressing willingness to resume negotiations on its nuclear program.

The five-member team from the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will hold two days of talks in Iran, but Western diplomats have played down any hopes of a major breakthrough.

"I'm still pessimistic that Iran will demonstrate the substantive cooperation necessary," one envoy said in Vienna.

Yet the outcome of this week's discussions is important and will be watched closely because it could either intensify the standoff or offer scope to reduce tensions.

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