UN nuclear inspectors arrive in Iran for talks, report says
Official Iranian TV says six-member delegation lands in Tehran airport ahead of talks geared at resolving Iran's nuclear standoff with the West.
A six-member delegation of inspectors from the United Nations' nuclear watchdog arrived in Tehran on Sunday, Iranian state television reported.
According to the Press TV report, the team of senior officials and experts, headed by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief inspector Herman Nackaerts, arrived at the capital's Imam Khomeini International Airport.
Press TV reported that the IAEA team was welcomed by several Iranian students protesting the UN nuclear watchdog's Iran policies.
The students held posters with the photographs of Iranian nuclear scientists Iran claims were assassinated by Israel and the U.S., as well as banners reading "Nuclear Energy is Our Right," and "Stop Israel Making Atomic Bomb."
Prior to the team's departure from Vienna, the IAEA's Nackaerts said that the delegation was are looking forward to start with a dialogue, a dialogue that is overdue since very long."
"In particular we hope that Iran will engage with us on our concerns regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program," added Nackaerts, who is heading the team along with Rafael Grossi, a top advisor to IAEA director Yukiya Amano.
Iran has said it will cooperate with the IAEA team during their three-day visit but indicated it would not give up uranium enrichment, which it considers a sovereign right.
"We have always been open with regards to our nuclear issues and the IAEA team coming to Iran can make the necessary inspections," Ali-Akbar Velayati, advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the ISNA news agency.
"We will however not withdraw from our nuclear rights as we have constantly acted within international regulations and in line with the laws of the non-proliferation treaty," said Velayati.
There has been speculation in Iran that the IAEA team might be allowed to visit the Fordo uranium enrichment facility south of the capital Tehran, which will become operational next month.
However, sources close to the Vienna-based IAEA said the visit would not involve inspections of nuclear facilities but would focus on resuming talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program, which the West suspects has a military dimension.
Iran has since 2008 declined to fully cooperate with the IAEA and denies it is seeking a nuclear bomb.
The visit could pave the way for the resumption of the talks between Iran and world powers Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. The last round of talks in January 2011 ended without a breakthrough.
Referring to the possibility of a military strike by western powers geared at forcibly halting Iran's nuclear program, U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that the United States does not possess conventional weapons powerful enough to completely destroy Iran's nuclear facilities.