News / Middle East

UN Nuclear Watchdog to Visit Two Iranian Sites

FILE - An unidentified International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspector cuts the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium enrichment at the Natanz facility, some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran.
FILE - An unidentified International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspector cuts the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium enrichment at the Natanz facility, some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran.
Reuters
The United Nations atomic agency will visit two uranium sites in Iran next week, Iranian media reported on Tuesday, part of the body's efforts to gain greater insight into Tehran's disputed nuclear program.
 
A senior inspector from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will visit the Saghand uranium mine in central Iran and the Ardakan milling plant, where the ore is separated from other elements, ISNA news agency reported, quoting Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of Iran's atomic energy organization.
 
Fars news agency said the visits would take place next week.
 
There was no immediate comment from the IAEA, a Vienna-based U.N. agency set up to prevent the spread of atomic arms.
 
IAEA access to such sites is seen as important as the uranium they produce, once refined, can be used in both nuclear power plants and, after further processing, nuclear bombs.
 
Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and denies Western and Israeli allegations that it seeking to develop the capability to make nuclear weapons.
 
After years of an increasingly hostile standoff between Iran and the West, the Islamic Republic and six world powers reached a breakthrough agreement in November to curb the country's nuclear activities in exchange for some sanctions easing.
 
They aim to negotiate a permanent settlement by late July to settle a dispute that has raised fears of a Middle East war.
 
Separately, the IAEA and Iran late last year struck a transparency accord intended to allay concerns that Iran may have worked on designing a nuclear warhead. The deal raised hopes of progress in a long-stalled IAEA probe.
 
Detonators
 
The planned visits to Saghand and Ardakan are among seven measures the two sides agreed would be carried out by May 15, as part of a step-by-step process by Iran to provide greater access and more information to U.N. inspectors.
 
Diplomats and experts say the measures announced so far have been relatively easy for Iran to agree to but that it may become increasingly difficult as the U.N. agency presses for answers to sensitive questions on alleged atomic bomb research.
 
One such issue, about detonators that could be used to help set off an atomic explosive device, is also among the steps to be carried out by mid-May. It is unclear whether Iran has so far provided the information requested by the IAEA in this regard.
 
Western diplomats say Iran's agreement to start addressing IAEA concerns about what it calls the possible military dimensions to the country's nuclear program is positive but that it needs to do so at a faster pace.
 
In 2011, the IAEA issued a 12-page report with a trove of intelligence information pointing to activities in Iran relevant to the development of nuclear weapons.
 
Although separate, the IAEA's and the powers' talks with Iran are still closely linked as both are focused on easing fears that Tehran may be seeking nuclear bomb capability.
 
The powers - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia - want Iran to cooperate with the IAEA's investigation as part of any wider diplomatic accord to end the decade-old nuclear dispute.
 
Iran said in April last year that it had begun operations at the Saghand and Ardakan sites. It was not immediately clear if the IAEA has ever visited them.
 
IAEA reports in 2010 and 2011 only referred to satellite imagery of the sites, saying construction activities appeared to be continuing at the time.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs