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Iran invites U.N. to visit nuclear-linked site

Tehran asks inspectors from U.N. atomic watchdog to visit facility at Arak site for first time since 2011

Published: Updated:

Iran on Thursday invited the U.N. atomic watchdog to bring its inspectors to the heavy water production plant at its Arak site on Dec. 8, in what would be the first such visit since Aug. 2011.

“I can inform the board that we have received an invitation from Iran to visit the Heavy Water Production Plant at Arak on 8 December,” Agence France-Presse quoted the International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yuyika Amano as saying.

The so-called heavy water reactor Iran is building at Arak is of concern to the international community because Tehran could in theory extract weapons-grade plutonium from the reactor’s spent fuel, according to AFP.

After the breakthrough deal signed last Sunday with world powers in Geneva, Iran agreed that for six months it will not commission the reactor or transfer fuel or heavy water to the reactor site.

In addition it will not test additional fuel, produce more fuel or install remaining components, as per the text of the accord.

The IAEA already conducts regular visits of the actual reactor site at Arak, but says it has not received updated detailed design information since 2006 and has not visited the heavy water production plant since August 2011.

Meanwhile, the IAEA said it was looking into how the accord signed Sunday could be “put into practice” concerning the U.N. agency’s role in verifying the deal.

“We are now looking at the way in which the elements of the agreement relevant to the Agency could be put into practice,” Amano said.

“This will include the implications for funding and staffing. This analysis will take some time,” the chief told a closed-door meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors, according to the text of his remarks.

Iran’s invitation to the IAEA ties in with a “joint statement on a framework for cooperation” signed in Tehran by Iran and Amano on Nov. 11 aimed at Iran providing increased transparency on its nuclear work.

(With AFP and Reuters)