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Iran: UN Team In Tehran For Talks, Not Inspections

Iranian media report that the IAEA inspectors hope to visit the Parchin military complex, which is suspected of housing a secret underground facility used for Iran's nuclear program, a claim Iran denies.
Iran's Foreign Ministry says United Nations experts on the second day of a visit to Iran have no plans to visit the Islamic republic's nuclear facilities.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would only hold talks with officials in Tehran.

He described the talks as aiming to "accelerate" cooperation between Iran and the UN's nuclear watchdog.

Earlier, Iranian media reported that the IAEA inspectors hoped to talk with Iranian nuclear scientists and visit the Parchin military complex. That site is suspected of housing a secret underground facility used for Iran's nuclear program, a claim Iran denies.

IAEA inspectors last visited Parchin in 2005, but not all areas of interest within the complex.

It is the second visit in less than a month by an IAEA team, with increasingly impassioned pleas coming from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Western officials concerned about possible plans for a preemptive strike by Israel to head off the risk of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.

Correspondents say Parchin was highlighted in the IAEA's latest report on Iran late last year, which said some of Iran's nuclear activities could only have a military application.

The IAEA visit comes after Iran announced last week what it called key advancements in its nuclear program.

It also comes as Iran announced the military had begun four days of air-defense exercises in the south of the country.

The exercises, dubbed "Sarollah," or "God's Revenge," will take place near the port of Bushehr, the site of Iran's sole nuclear power plant.

Iran has held similar exercises as tensions ratchet up with the West.

Oil Threats

Meanwhile, Iran's deputy oil minister warned that a cut in Iranian oil exports announced February 19 against France and Britain could be expanded to other EU states.

The EU dismissed the threat, with a spokesman for EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton saying the EU was well stocked with oil.

Paris also played down Iran's move to halt oil exports to France.

The Foreign Ministry said French oil companies already had stopped purchases of Iranian oil under EU sanctions adopted last month that target Iran's central bank assets and an oil embargo set to fully befin in July.

In Japan, the "Yomiuri" newspaper reported that Tokyo is likely to win an exemption from U.S. sanctions by reducing its imports of crude oil from Iran by at least 11 percent per year.

The IAEA delegation arrived in Iran on February 20.