UN team flies to inspect Iranian nuclear sites as tensions rise

Iran announces military exercise to protect atomic facilities ahead of Obama meeting with Israeli PM


UN inspectors flew into Tehran yesterday as the White House
announced that President Obama would meet Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu on 5 March for what could be a key meeting on
deciding the strategy for dealing with Iran's nuclear

Iran staged a show of readiness for any putative external attack yesterday when its military announced the start of a four-day exercise to underpin protection of its nuclear sites. Tehran also threatened to extend its partly symbolic oil embargo against Britain and France to other EU countries.

In the wake of low expectations expressed by some International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) diplomats that its inspectors would be allowed free access to nuclear facilities, the head of the IAEA's team, Herman Nackaerts, insisted he wanted "concrete results" from the latest two-day visit. But he admitted that real progress "may take a while".

The IAEA is hoping to question Iranian nuclear scientists and visit the Parchin military base, where high-explosive tests are thought to have been conducted.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's Foreign Minister, told ISNA, the country's student news agency, that the inspectors would not be inspecting any nuclear sites.

In a rare Chinese criticism of Iranian policy towards its mounting dispute with the West, Beijing's Foreign Ministry spokesman responded to Iran's announcement on Sunday that it was halting oil exports to Britain and France by saying: "We have consistently upheld dialogue and negotiation as the way to resolve disputes between countries, and do not approve of exerting pressure or using confrontation to resolve issues."

The halt to sales of oil to Britain and France was intended as a pre-emptive retaliation for the boycott of Iranian oil which the EU has announced will be imposed from July. However, its impact may be limited since British and French oil purchases from Iran have already been severely reduced.

Tom Donilon, President Obama's National Security Adviser, left Jerusalem yesterday after two days of talks ahead of next month's Obama-Netanyahu meeting. He stressed the need for sanctions to be allowed to work before any issue of a military strike arose to curtail Iran's suspected ambition to build a nuclear weapon.

Dan Meridor, Israel's Deputy Prime Minister, repeatedly emphasised at a meeting with foreign reporters his view that "there is a chance of success [for sanctions] if it they are done with determination, persistence and leadership". But he stressed he had no guarantees that it would do so and that it was still possible that Israel might have to "stand alone" against Iran's nuclear programme.

The New York Times, quoting former US defence officials, said Israel would face a "highly complex operation" to hit Iranian nuclear targets. The report said Israel would need to deploy at least 100 planes, and questioned whether its "bunker buster" bombs were powerful enough to penetrate Iran's underground nuclear facilities.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?