Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Monday, 18 August 2008 11:39 UK

Nuclear envoy begins Iran talks

Rocket launch, 17/08
State media broadcast the launch of the rocket

A senior nuclear official is visiting Iran, a day after the country launched a satellite-carrying rocket into space.

Olli Heinonen, of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), arrived in Tehran for his second round of talks this month, state media reported.

The watchdog is preparing a report on Iran's facilities, which critics say can be used to make nuclear weapons.

The US expressed concern over Sunday's launch, saying the technology could also be used for carrying missiles.

'Exaggerated claims'

State-run news agency IRNA reported that Mr Heinonen had "travelled to Tehran to continue previous talks about the trend of co-operation between Iran and the agency".

IRNA said his previous visit, on 7 August, had been "constructive", although it gave no further details.

The IAEA said in a report in May that Iranian research into nuclear warheads was a "serious concern". Its next report on Iran is due in mid-September.

The US and some European countries have demanded that Iran curtail uranium enrichment - but Iran protests that its purposes are peaceful and says it has a right to continue.

Although the White House said the launch of the satellite carrier was "troubling", Israel seemed to play down such fears.

"Iran still has a long way to go as far as satellites are concerned and it deliberately exaggerates its air and space successes in order to dissuade Israel or the United States from attacking its nuclear sites," the head of Israel's space agency, Yitzhak Ben Israel, told public radio.

Tehran has pursued a space programme for years, despite international concern over its nuclear plans.

In February, it sent a probe into space as part of preparations for the launch of the satellite.

In October 2005, a Russian-made Iranian satellite named Sina-1 was put into orbit by a Russian rocket.

Iran launches satellite carrier
17 Aug 08 |  Middle East
Iranians inaugurate space project
04 Feb 08 |  Middle East
First Iranian satellite launched
27 Oct 05 |  Middle East
Tehran aims for satellite launch
05 Jan 04 |  Middle East

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