IAEA inspectors to visit Iran uranium mine

UN to visit uranium mine January 29, as part of interim deal, Iran TV reports; this is the first int'l visit since 2005.

Bushehr nuclear power plant south of Tehran. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Bushehr nuclear power plant south of Tehran.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

ANKARA - UN nuclear inspectors will soon visit an Iranian uranium mine for the first time since 2005 as part of Tehran's agreement to open its disputed nuclear program to greater scrutiny, state television reported on Friday.

"Based on our agreement with the agency (IAEA), their inspectors will visit the Gachin mine in southern part of the country on Jan. 29," Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, was quoted as saying.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency had no immediate comment. It previously said it wanted to visit the Gachin mine uranium mine to acquire a better understanding of the nature of Iran's nuclear program.

The West suspects Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons capability behind the screen of a declared civilian atomic energy program. The Islamic Republic denies this.

Iran and the IAEA struck a cooperation pact in November entailing six initial steps to be taken by Tehran over the following three months including provision of access to two nuclear-related facilities and relevant information.

Iran's deal with the U.N. nuclear watchdog is separate from but complementary to its Nov. 24 interim reached with world powers in Geneva under which it is to curb some atomic activity in return for some easing of economic sanctions.

That accord is to go into effect on Jan. 20.

The IAEA said on Tuesday a planned Jan. 21 meeting with Iran to discuss follow-up steps under their framework agreement had been pushed back to Feb. 8 at Tehran's request.

The IAEA further wants Iran to address longstanding intelligence indications that it has researched ways of developing a nuclear bomb. Tehran says its nuclear energy program is for peaceful purposes only and that Western intelligence suggesting otherwise is fabricated.