TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A team of international inspectors arrived in Iran on Saturday ahead of the Islamic Republic opening its nuclear program as part of a landmark deal struck with world powers to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for sanctions being eased.
Iranian state television reported that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations agency, landed in Tehran. It said nuclear engineer Massimo Aparo will lead the team, which will visit Natanz and Fordo, Iran's uranium enrichment facilities.
The inspectors will to monitor Iran's compliance with terms of a historic deal reached Nov. 24 in Geneva between the Islamic Republic and the so-called P5+1 world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. The deal takes effect Monday.
Under the deal, Iran has agreed to halt production of 20 percent enriched uranium, which is just steps away from bomb-making material. Iran will be able to continue enrichment up to 5 percent. It also will eliminate its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium.
In return, some Western sanctions to be lifted against Iran. The deal will last for six months as Iran and the world powers negotiate a final deal.
Yet the deal has skeptics. Some U.S. lawmakers have pushed for more sanctions against Iran. Iranian hard-liners call the deal a "poisoned chalice" and lawmakers there have introduced a bill calling for even higher uranium enrichment.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran is committed to the deal and will fulfil its obligations Monday. Zarif told reporters Saturday that Tehran is ready to enter talks for a permanent accord as soon as the interim deal goes into force.
The U.S and some of its allies fear that Iran's nuclear program could allow it to build an atomic weapon. Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes such as medical research and producing electricity.