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Terrorism & Security

IAEA nuclear experts visit Iran - but no nuclear sites

The second visit in a month by members of the UN nuclear watchdog agency is aimed at laying the groundwork for negotiations between Iran and the IAEA.

By Staff writer / February 21, 2012

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (r.) and his Omani counterpart Yousef bin Alawi attend a joint news conference in Tehran on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Raheb Homavandi/Reuters

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UN nuclear inspectors in Iran will not visit any nuclear sites during their two-day visit, the Iranian foreign minister said today.

Ramin Mehmanparast said that the team was made up of “experts” – not inspectors, as they have been described in news reports – and that they were there for discussions that would lay the groundwork for negotiations between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding the country’s nuclear program, the Associated Press reports.

Iran views its nuclear program – which it insists is for peaceful purposes only – as a “non-negotiable right,” Agence France-Presse reports. The implication is that Iran will not give up its nuclear program, although it may consent to some controls or limits on it.

Iranian state radio reported yesterday that the IAEA team asked to visit the Parchin military complex, suspected of being the site of covert weapon development, and to meet nuclear scientists, according to the Associated Press. The IAEA visit less than a month ago also did not include a visit to any Iranian nuclear sites.

In recent weeks, the tone of discussions about a military strike have escalated. An Iranian military leader warned today that Iran would stage a preemptive attack if it felt an attack on its nuclear program was imminent, Reuters reports.

“Our strategy now is that if we feel our enemies want to endanger Iran’s national interests, and want to decide to do that, we will act without waiting for their actions,” said Mohammed Hejazi, the deputy armed forces head, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

The New York Times describes the recent heightened rhetoric as “a poker game with potentially lethal stakes, as both Iran and its adversaries maneuver for advantage with no way of knowing their opponent’s ultimate intentions.”

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