First inspectors visit Iran's secret nuclear plant as talks hit deadlock

Senior politicians claim West trying to 'cheat' Tehran

UN inspectors yesterday got their first look inside a once-secret Iranian uranium enrichment plant that raised western suspicions about Tehran's nuclear programme.

The semi-official Mehr news agency reported that the four-member team had visited the heavily protected facility, carved into a mountainside north of the holy city of Qom. No results were expected until after the inspectors leave Iran by the weekend.

Iran is expected to make a decision within days on whether to accept a UN-brokered deal to process its nuclear fuel abroad, designed to ease Western fears about Iran's potential ability to produce weapons-grade material.

Iran's second enrichment facility is known as Fordo after a village believed to have the largest percentage of fighters killed in the 1980-88 war with Iraq. Tehran says that by reporting the existence of the site voluntarily to the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, it "pre-empted a conspiracy" against Iran by the US and its allies who were hoping to present the site as evidence that Iran was developing its nuclear programme in secret.

The site, about 20 miles north of Qom, is protected by military installations including missile silos and anti-aircraft batteries, Iranian officials said last month. Tehran says the facility will not be operational for 18 months. The delegation from the IAEA's safeguards division is led by Herman Nackaerts, who oversees the Middle East region, including Iran.

Tehran also has promised to respond this week on a UN proposal to have its nuclear fuel processed outside the country. Iran claims it seeks only peaceful reactors for research and energy. Although it has not given its official answer on the proposed deal – discussed last week after talks in Vienna with the US, France and Russia – there are increasing doubts about agreement.

On Saturday, Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani claimed the West was trying to "cheat" Iran under the deal that would ship most of the country's uranium to Russia for reactor-ready enrichment. Mr Larijani, Iran's former nuclear negotiator, said Iran prefers to buy the nuclear fuel it needs for a reactor under construction that makes medical isotopes.

Rejection of the UN deal would force the US and its allies to either return to talks or step up demands for greater economic sanctions.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor