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. UN inspectors visit key Iran atomic plant
TEHRAN, Jan 16 (AFP) Jan 16, 2007
Inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog have visited Iran's uranium enrichment plant and are to hold talks with atomic officials, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

"The International Atomic Energy Agency inspections team has visited the installations in Natanz and will meet Iranian nuclear officials on Tuesday and on Wednesday," an Iranian nuclear official, who was not named, told IRNA.

"The progress made in Natanz has been so rapid that it has caused sensitivity at the agency. We hope that with this visit the sensitivities will disappear," the source added, without specifying further.

Government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said Monday Iran wanted to install "even more" than 3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium at Natanz, in central Iran, in defiance of Western warnings to freeze the sensitive activity.

It remains unclear how far Iran has advanced with its plans for uranium enrichment, a process that can be used both to make a nuclear bomb and nuclear fuel.

The Islamic republic has so far declared the installation of two cascades of 164 centrifuges at the plant in Natanz and the installation of 3,000 centrifuges would mark a major step towards industrial enrichment.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, a charge fiercely rejected by Tehran which insists it only wants to provide energy for a growing population.

UN inspectors make regular checks of Iranian nuclear sites as part of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which Iran is a signatory.

Parliament has passed a law obliging the government to "revise" its cooperation with the agency after UN Security Council sanctions were imposed against Iran, but the government has yet to decide how to react.

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