TEHRAN, Iran -- UN
inspectors visited on Monday a nuclear reactor being built in central Iran that
had been off-limits since April, the official Islamic Republic News Agency
"The team visited the 40-megawatt research reactor in Arak," IRNA quoted an
unnamed official as saying. "The inspection took some 5 hours." The report did
not provide additional details.
Experts from the UN's nuclear watchdog have said access to the reactor is
critical to their review of Tehran's overall nuclear activities.
Iran agreed to the inspection last week after a meeting between International
Atomic Energy Agency Deputy Director-General Olli Heinonen and a senior Iranian
IAEA spokesman Peter Rickwood declined to comment on Monday's reported visit.
But an IAEA official, who demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to
comment to the media, confirmed that agency experts had visited the site. He
said they were given full access and encountered no obstacles from the Iranian
Iran has blocked access to the site since early April, and the agency's
inspectors have not visited since January 29 after the UN Security Council
imposed limited sanctions on Iran.
Arak will produce plutonium once it is completed sometime in the next decade,
and the UN Security Council has demanded that Iran stop construction. Plutonium,
like uranium, is a possible pathway to nuclear arms.
Iran has vowed to continue its disputed nuclear program, insisting it is
peaceful and geared solely toward producing electricity. The United States and
key Western allies accuse it of covertly trying to build a nuclear weapon.