UN nuclear watchdog delegation arrives in Iran

"High-ranking" five-member delegation from the IAEA, headed by Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen, arrived in Teheran for a two-day visit.

Iran Nuclear 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Iran Nuclear 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A delegation from the UN nuclear watchdog arrived in Iran on Wednesday to see if the Teheran government is willing to answer all outstanding questions about its disputed nuclear program, state television reported. The report said a "high-ranking" five-member delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, headed by Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen arrived in Teheran for a two-day visit. Heinonen would meet Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, on Wednesday, the report said. The delegation would not inspect Iran's nuclear facilities, and conclusion of the talks would be announced on Thursday, according to the TV report. The visit comes after Larijani and IAEA Chief Mohammad ElBaradei met last month in Vienna, Austria. It also comes two days after ElBaradei said Iran had scaled back its uranium enrichment program, suggesting a new willingness from the government to resolve the international standoff over its nuclear defiance. Members of the UN Security Council are preparing to debate a third set of sanctions against the Islamic republic in response to Teheran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for civilian energy or fissile material for a bomb. Speaking in Vienna, ElBaradei said Monday if Iran finally honored its promise to resolve questions surrounding its program and froze all enrichment activities, "this would influence the actions" of the six nations - the five permanent council members and Germany, ElBaradei said, suggesting that the council would hold off on new sanctions. The head Iran's parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, welcomed the talks. "Iran's initiation in inviting the delegation is aimed at removing technical arguments in negotiations with Solana," Boroujerdi was quoted as saying by Iran's official news agency, IRNA, referring to Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief. Larijani and Solana have held three rounds of negotiations over Iran's nuclear activities. But Boroujerdi also reaffirmed that Iran has no intention of suspending enrichment. "Technically, both the slowdown and speed up of activities is possible, however, the principle of continuation of activities have been remained in force," he said referring to ElBaradei's comments Monday. Teheran insists it wants to develop an enrichment program to generate energy, but the US and some of its allies fear that it could misuse it to produce the fissile core of nuclear warheads. Iran has said it is ready to remove the ambiguities related to its nuclear activities through negotiations but rejects enrichment suspension, a condition set by the West for resumption of talks on the case. The Security Council first imposed sanctions on Iran in December and modestly increased them in March over Iran's refusal to suspend enrichment.