UN Nuclear Inspectors in Iran to Investigate Atomic Program

Posted February 20th, 2012 at 3:20 am (UTC-5)
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A team of United Nations nuclear inspectors is in Iran for a visit aimed at resolving the dispute about Iran's nuclear program.

The delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Tehran Monday. It is led by IAEA chief nuclear inspector Herman Nackaerts, who said his top priority is analyzing the “possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program.”

He said the IAEA team wants to see “concrete results” from two days of talks with Iranian officials, but he cautioned that progress may take some time.

U.N. inspectors want Iran to explain the findings of a recent IAEA report that cited evidence of Iranian work on the design of a nuclear weapon. Iran says the report is based on fabrications.

The IAEA visit comes a day after the top U.S. military officer, General Martin Dempsey, said an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would be “premature” because it is unclear that Iran would assemble a nuclear bomb.

Israel says military action may be needed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Also Sunday, Iran said it stopped limited exports of crude oil to France and Britain, in apparent retaliation for an impending European Union boycott of Iranian oil. Iran said it has taken steps to find other customers for its crude oil.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Sunday Iran wants to resume talks with world powers to resolve the nuclear dispute in a way that both sides can “win.” The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany have not held nuclear talks with Iran for about a year.

The United States, Israel and other nations accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program. Iran says its atomic program is for peaceful purposes.