Last updated: 29 April, 2014

IAEA to visit Iran nuclear sites next week

A team of IAEA experts is expected to visit two of Iran’s nuclear sites within the next week, as part of a monitoring process agreed with the UN agency.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported Tuesday that inspectors would travel to the Ardakan yellow-cake production plant and the Saghand uranium mine, located close together around 450 kilometres (280 miles) from Tehran.

Visiting the two sites “is the main purpose of this trip,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy organisation, told IRNA.

The trip is in line with a seven-step plan agreed between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency in February to increase transparency over Tehran’s nuclear activities.

Kamalvandi was quoted separately by the ISNA news agency as saying that IAEA officials already visited the Lashkar Ab’ad Laser Centre, which is said to have been used for uranium enrichment.

February’s seven-step agreement is due to be completed by May 15, two days after the start of political talks in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany — aimed at reaching a lasting accord on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.

As part of an IAEA probe, Iran agreed with the UN atomic agency in February to clarify its need “for the development of Exploding Bridge Wire (EBW) detonators”.

According to the IAEA, Iran told the agency in 2008 that it had developed EBWs for “civilian and conventional military applications” but has yet to explain its “need or application for such detonators”.

Such fast, high-precision detonators could be used in civilian applications but are mostly known for triggering a nuclear chain reaction. The IAEA believes they form “an integral part of a programme to develop an implosion type nuclear device.”