UN team in Iran to oversee landmark nuclear deal

TEHRAN (AFP) - Inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog arrived in Tehran on Saturday in readiness to oversee implementation of a landmark deal that puts temporary curbs on Iran's nuclear programme, state media reported.

The team is led by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Iran task force, Massimo Aparo, and will hold talks with Iranian nuclear officials, the state IRNA news agency said.

It is tasked with reporting back to the Vienna-based agency on steps Tehran has to take under the deal agreed in November and finalised last week between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers.

Clinched after years of fruitless negotiations, the accord is to come into effect on January 20 and will last for six months during which Iran - among other obligations - must limit its enrichment of uranium to five per cent.

It must also begin to neutralise its stockpile of uranium purified to 20 per cent, a few technical steps short of weapons-grade.

Both measures are to be monitored and verified by the IAEA inspectors.

In return, Iran will be granted modest relief from Western sanctions and access to nearly 4.2 billion dollars of frozen assets in eight instalments.

During the six months of the deal, Iran will hold intensive talks with the P5+1 - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany - on a comprehensive agreement to allay Western concerns about its nuclear ambitions.

Western governments suspect Iran's civil nuclear programme masks a drive for a weapons capability, something Tehran strongly denies.

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