IAEA chief arrives in Tehran to ask for access to new nuclear site


The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, has arrived in Tehran to hold talks with Iranian officials. He is expected to ask Iran to open a newly disclosed uranium enrichment site in Qom to IAEA inspectors.

Reuters – The head of the U.N. nuclear agency arrived in Iran on Saturday for talks on a timetable for inspectors to visit a newly disclosed nuclear enrichment plant, state radio reported.

“Mohamed Elbaradei arrived in Iran to meet Iranian officials. He will discuss Iran’s nuclear programme with the officials,” it said.

Earlier a senior nuclear official told Reuters ElBaradei would discuss a plan to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to visit the uranium enrichment site, as demanded by world powers.

He would not visit any nuclear site during this trip, the official said.

Iran agreed with six powers in Geneva on Thursday to allow IAEA inspectors unfettered access to the enrichment plant near the Shi’ite holy city of Qom.

The West suspects the Islamic state is seeking to build bombs. Iran insists it needs nuclear technology to generate power to meet booming domestic demand.

Tehran denies the West’s accusations that its second uranium enrichment plant under construction was clandestine.

ElBaradei has said Iran was “on the wrong side of the law” in failing to declare the plant as soon as plans were drawn up.

The Geneva meeting, to be followed by more talks in late October, eased tension over Iran’s nuclear intentions. But Western powers said Iran should offer more transparency at the second meeting to prevent tougher U.N. sanctions.

The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany took part in the Geneva meeting. Moscow and Beijing, major trade partners of Iran, have long opposed harsh sanctions against Iran.

ElBaradei was last in Iran in January 2008 to negotiate the implementation of Iranian steps, still incomplete, to clarify concerns about its nuclear programme.

Western officials said Iran had agreed “in principle” on Thursday to ship out most of its enriched uranium for reprocessing in Russia and France. It would then be returned to power a Tehran reactor that makes medical isotopes.

Iran has repeatedly rejected demands to halt uranium enrichment, which can have both military or civilian purposes, or even freeze it at current levels of output.

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