Experts visit Iran uranium mine for first time in years
TEHRAN, Iran – Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency visited Iran's Gachin uranium mine on Wednesday, January 29, for the first time in several years, an Iranian official said.
"The three inspectors have started their visit to the Gachin mine," said Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, quoted by the Mehr news agency.
The IAEA experts were to leave Iran in the evening, he added, without giving any other details about their visit conducted in the absence of any media.
Their visit to the mine in southern Iran falls within the scope of a framework agreement which Tehran reached with the UN nuclear watchdog in November.
As part of the first phase of the deal, UN experts visited the heavy water plant at the unfinished Arak reactor on December 8, when all of the IAEA's "technical objectives" were met, the Vienna-based agency said.
The Arak reactor, still under construction, is a major source of concern for Western powers, who fear the plutonium it will produce as a by-product could provide Iran with an alternative route to an atomic bomb.
The deal also allowed UN experts to visit Gachin -- which has been off-limits to them since 2005.
As it stands, Iran is only obliged to inform the IAEA three months before it transfers fissile material into a nuclear facility.
Kamalvandi said last week that the agenda was "not yet clear" for negotiations between Iran and the IAEA on implementing the second phase, which are to take place on February 8.
Iran also reached a landmark deal in November with the so-called P5+1 group – UN Security Council permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany – on its disputed nuclear drive, which the West suspects has military dimensions, despite Tehran's denial. – Rappler.com