U.N. nuclear inspectors arrived in Iran on Monday in the latest push to hold key talks with Iranian officials about how far the country's controversial nuclear program has come.
The trip is the second in less than a month by the International Atomic Energy Agency team, reflecting growing concerns over alleged weapons experiments -- something Iran has so far both denied and refused to discuss.
Herman Nackaerts, a senior U.N. nuclear official, said in Vienna before the team departed on Sunday that he hoped for progress in the talks but his careful choice of words suggested little expectation the meeting will be successful, informs Fox News.
The two days of talks come amid heightened tensions in the region, with Israel making clear it is pondering an attack on Tehran's nuclear infrastructure, while Iran warned it could cut off the narrow strait through which oil tankers sail in and out of the gulf.
The scheduled talks between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iranian officials are billed as an opportunity for the watchdog agency to clarify the "possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program," the group said. Iran says it is producing enriched uranium to fuel civilian power plants and has refused international demands to halt its production, says CNN International.
Tensions have risen over speculation that Israel may carry out a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon arrived in Israel at the weekend for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials.
But the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, warned on Sunday that it was still unclear whether Iran was at a stage to assemble a nuclear bomb. "On that basis, I think it would be premature to exclusively decide that the time for a military option was upon us," Gen Dempsey said, according to BBC News.
The agency has sought access to Iran's Parchin military base and Lavisan physics center as well as to centrifuge workshops and uranium mines. All of Iran's declared nuclear material is under IAEA seal, monitored by cameras and subject to regular inspection.
"Iran should allow the IAEA to go to Marivan and take samples at the site where Iran supposedly did their full-scale high-explosive tests," said Kelley, who helped debunk forged intelligence before the 2003 Iraq War. "The agency needs to put Marivan first because it is the sleeping dog in the last report.", reports BusinessWeek.