IAEA Inspectors Commence Iran Visit Ahead of Nuclear Talks

May 05, 2014 8:22 am ET

(Updates with Zarif comments in last paragraph.)

May 5 (Bloomberg) -- Inspectors from the United Nations atomic agency arrived in Iran to visit sites related to the country’s nuclear program before talks between the Islamic republic and world powers resume next week.

International Atomic Energy Agency Inspectors, who landed in Tehran today for the two-day trip, are expected to visit the Saghand uranium mine and the Ardakan concentration plant, state- run Press TV news channel reported, citing Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

Iran has agreed to provide relevant nuclear information and managed access to these sites in line with seven “practical steps” agreed to in February with the IAEA to shed more light on its nuclear activities. The measures need to be implemented by May 15.

Iranian officials and the IAEA will also discuss today the nation’s Arak heavy-water reactor, state-run Mehr news agency reports. The reactor has been a source of concern for the U.S. and its allies as it could produce plutonium, a key ingredient in nuclear weapons. The Islamic republic has repeatedly said that its nuclear program is designed for peaceful purposes.

The IAEA’s visit comes before talks between Iranian diplomats and counterparts from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China resume on May 13 in Vienna. World powers and Iran are aiming to reach a comprehensive accord by July 20 after breaking a decade-long deadlock with a temporary agreement struck in Geneva last year.

The two sides “will begin drafting the text of a comprehensive deal” in the next round of talks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said today, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

--With assistance from Golnar Motevalli in Tehran.