A team representing the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency landed in Iran on Sunday to begin a three-day inspection of the country's nuclear facilities, the Associated Press reports.
The inspection comes in the wake of renewed tensions between Iran and western states, who have long sought to slow or halt Iran's uranium enrichment programs. Led by the United States, the 5+1 group (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) has recently imposed new sanctions on Iran.
In retaliation Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, which carries around 20% of the world's oil, according to AP. The Iranian state media has also accused the U.S. and Israel of ordering assassinations of top nuclear scientists, most recently Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. Protesters carrying pictures of Roshan were waiting for the IAEA inspectors when they landed in Tehran early Sunday morning.
Despite these tensions, Iran is putting on an optimistic face over the inspections.
"The nuclear issue has taken the right course and our interaction with the agency has been good, and the cooperation has been close and extensive," said Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, according to the Tehran Times.
"We've always tried to put transparency as a principle in our cooperation with IAEA," Salehi also said. "During this visit, the delegation has questions and the necessary answers will be given," This stance represents a shift from Iran's previous frank refusal to discuss it's nuclear program.
The IAEA hopes to capitalize on this new attitude as their team questions nuclear scientest suspected of working on the weapons program, and inspects a number of nuclear enrichment labs, including a recently operational facility built into a mountain, which the UN fears was designed to resist air strikes.
"So we're looking forward to the start of a dialogue," IAEA Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts told the AP.