Report: Nuclear inspectors to visit Iranian sites
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — International nuclear inspectors will visit two sites in Iran in the coming days, the country’s official news agency reported Sunday, as an official said that would fulfill a series of demands made by the United Nations nuclear watchdog.
The demands by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which Iran was required to meet by May 15, include releasing information about its efforts to develop a type of explosive detonator that can be used in nuclear weapons.
A report by Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman of Iran’s atomic department, as saying the inspectors will visit a uranium mine and a uranium-thickening facility in central Iranian towns of Ardakan and Yazd on Monday and Tuesday.
“Following the visit, Iran will be able to say that the seven-agreed measures between Iran and the agency have fulfilled,” Kamalvandi said. “Already six steps have been taken.”
He did not elaborate. His comments refer to an agreement struck between the U.N. nuclear watchdog and Iran in February, which included the detonators.
The agency mentioned its concerns about detonator development three years ago as part of a list of activities it said could indicate that Tehran had secretly worked on nuclear weapons. The technology had “limited civilian and conventional military applications,” it said back then, adding: “given their possible application in a nuclear explosive device ... Iran development of such detonators and equipment is a matter of concern.”
The West fears Iran’s nuclear program could allow it to build an atomic bomb. Iran denies the charge saying its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes such as power generation and medical research.
The other demands included access to nuclear sites and more information about its enrichment process.
The inspectors’ visit comes as expert-level talks will begin on Monday in New York between Iran and representatives from world powers that struck an initial nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic in November.
Under the November deal, Tehran stopped enrichment of uranium to 20 percent — which is a possible pathway to nuclear arms — in exchange for the easing of some Western sanctions. It also agreed to dilute half of its 20 percent enriched uranium into 5 percent and turn the remaining half into oxide, which is very difficult to be used for bomb-making materials.
Now, negotiators from Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.S. will attempt to make a final deal before a July 20 deadline. Already, Iran has said it will redesign its Arak heavy water reactor to greatly limit the amount of plutonium it can make, a major concession.
On Sunday, Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani reiterated his support to the talks with the world powers. He faces increasing pressure from hard-liners within the Islamic Republic who say Iran has made too many concessions in the nuclear talks in return for too little.
“We intend to have dialogue with the world to solve our problems,” Rouhani said.