Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- United Nations nuclear inspectors arrived in Tehran today as part of a joint interim accord that would see Iran reduce its uranium enrichment in return for an easing of some Western sanctions, the Fars news agency reported.
Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the team will supervise the suspension of 20 percent-enriched uranium at the country’s Fordo and Natanz nuclear enrichment sites, according to Fars.
The IAEA team, led by Massimo Aparo, will also meet with Iran’s own Atomic Energy Organization. The inspections come alongside a commitment from Iran to cease further enrichment of 20 percent-enriched uranium and start diluting or oxidizing part of its current stockpile.
In return, the European Union and U.S. have agreed to allow Iran to access $4.2 billion in oil revenues held in frozen bank accounts and suspend sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports and imports of goods and services for its auto sector.
The U.S. will also suspend its efforts to further reduce the amount of Iranian crude bought by six countries which are exempt from sanctions under a waiver agreement.
On Nov. 24, Iran and the so called P5+1 group of nations — China, Russia, France, Britain and the U.S., plus Germany — reached an agreement which started a six- to 12-month timeline to reach a permanent accord on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
U.S. President Barack Obama pledged Jan. 12 to veto any Congressional efforts to impose new sanctions on Iran after the nation said it will curtail its nuclear program and permit more intrusive inspections beginning Jan. 20.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who has been leading the nuclear talks for the nation, said today the November agreement was a “well-defined” document and it would be made publicly available as soon as it is translated into Persian, Fars reported.
“There is nothing to hide regarding the agreement between Iran and the P5+1,” Fars quoted Zarif as saying at a news conference.
The agreement expands the IAEA’s remit in Iran, allowing daily, rather than weekly, inspections of sites and for the first time gives inspectors access to centrifuge production facilities.
Yukiya Amano, the head of the IAEA, has said that he will meet with the agency’s board of governors on Jan. 24 to discuss the team’s monitoring role in Iran.
Iran says that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and is against building a nuclear arm, while Washington and its allies say the country seeks to develop nuclear-weapons capability.
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