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Report: Nuclear inspectors visit newly revealed Iran plant

IAEA inspectors arrive at Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran early on October 25, 2009.
IAEA inspectors arrive at Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran early on October 25, 2009.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The IAEA announced Saturday its inspectors were leaving for the inspection
  • Iran said Friday it needs more time to decide whether to sign onto a nuclear deal
  • Iran says its nuclear program is intended solely for peaceful purposes
  • Many in the West believe Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- United Nations-backed nuclear inspectors on Sunday visited a newly disclosed Iranian nuclear facility near the city of Qom, Iranian media has reported.

"IAEA inspectors today visited the... nuclear installation," the semi-official Mehr news agency said, referring to International Atomic Energy Agency staff. "The IAEA inspectors arrived Saturday night and are scheduled to inspect the... site several times. The inspectors will leave Tehran Tuesday."

Tehran sent shock waves through the international community in September by revealing the existence of the previously secret nuclear enrichment facility near Qom.

The IAEA announced Saturday its inspectors were leaving for the much-anticipated inspection. The agency declined to give more details on Sunday.

"It is our policy not to comment on the itinerary of our inspectors," a spokesman for the U.N. nuclear watchdog told CNN.

The inspectors will visit the installation to make sure it is being used for peaceful purposes, said Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

The inspection comes after Iran said Friday that it needs more time to decide whether to sign onto a deal that could help end the international showdown over its nuclear activities.

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That proposal calls for low-enriched uranium produced in Iran to be sent abroad for further enrichment and then returned for use in medical research and treatment.

Tehran is studying the draft proposal and will have an answer next week, Iranian diplomat Ali Asghar Soltanieh said on state-run Press TV.

Iran informed IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei that it is "considering the proposal in depth and in a favorable light, but it needs until the middle of next week to provide a response," according to an IAEA statement.

Delegations from Iran, France, Russia, the United States and the IAEA met in Vienna this week to work out details of the tentative deal reached in early October. France, Russia and the United States have indicated their approval of the arrangement.

"The Director General hopes that Iran's response will equally be positive, since approval of this agreement will signal a new era of cooperation," the IAEA statement said.

After the current inspection, but before the end of the month, Iranian officials are expected to meet with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany to further discuss Tehran's nuclear program.

Iran's leaders maintain that their nation's nuclear program is intended solely for peaceful purposes, but many in the West believe Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities.

Low-enriched nuclear fuel can be further enriched into weapons-grade material.

CNN's Per Nyberg contributed to this report.

 
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