U.N. team did not visit Iran nuclear sites

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

TEHRAN, Iran -- Visiting U.N. inspectors did not visit any of the country's nuclear sites, Iran's official news agency reported Tuesday, concentrating instead on talks with officials.

IRNA quoted an unnamed Iranian official as saying the team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency conducted negotiations with Iranians and did not visit the sites where uranium is being enriched. He said the talks were held in a "positive and constructive atmosphere." The report did not elaborate. There was no comment from the U.N. team.

Tension has been building over Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. and its allies charge that Iran is using its uranium enrichment facilities to produce material for nuclear weapons.

Iran has declined to abandon its enrichment labs, saying it seeks to operate the reactors only for energy and medical purposes, not for making weapons.

The IAEA team arrived Sunday on a visit set for three days. An Iranian official indicated it could be extended, but a report from the semi-official Fars news agency Tuesday indicated the talks were over.

Mohammad Karamirad, a member of the influential parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, told the Isna news agency Tuesday that the visit by the IAEA team showed Iran has had "comprehensive and honest cooperation with the agency."

Karamirad said, "The visit can be beginning of new round of talks with the West, and it proves the peacefulness of Iran's nuclear activities."

Iran has been trying to display cooperation with the team and downplay expectations of a confrontational atmosphere during the visit, which began Sunday.

A group of Iranian students staged a silent gathering Tuesday to protest the visit by the U.N. nuclear inspectors, Isna reported.

The report said a group of students gathered at the gate of the country's atomic agency. It did not say how many participated in the brief protest, which was dispersed by Iranian police.

The demonstrating students said they were worried the visit would lead to assassination of Iranian nuclear experts. They charged that U.S. and Israeli agents used information leaked by the U.N. agency to target Iranian nuclear scientists.

On Sunday about a dozen Iranian hard-liners carrying pictures of slain nuclear expert Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan gathered at Tehran airport to protest the visit. Roshan was killed in a brazen daylight assassination when two assailants on a motorcycle attached a magnetic bomb to his car in the Iranian capital. Iran blamed Israel, the U.S. and Britain.

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