The stakes are high for the inspectors' visit. The next IAEA report is due within weeks, and in the past month the US and European Union have both imposed unprecedented sanctions on Iran that target its central bank and the lifeblood of its economy, its oil exports, in a bid to curb Iran's nuclear work.
The head of the IAEA team in Iran says their aim is to "resolve all the outstanding issues with Iran." Those include weapons-related studies – their "systematic" nature apparently halted in late 2003, according to the IAEA – which range from high-explosives testing to reengineering the warhead of a Shahab-3 missile to fit a specific, possibly nuclear, payload.
"In particular we hope that Iran will engage with us on our concerns regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program," the IAEA deputy director for safeguards, Herman Nackaerts, said before leaving Vienna on Sunday.
A group of Iranians – of a type often associated with pro-regime basiji ideologues, a few covering their faces and carrying placards in English which read "Nuclear energy is our right" – turned out at the Imam Khomeini airport for the IAEA team's arrival Sunday.
They held portraits of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, the latest of at least four nuclear scientists assassinated in Iran over two years. Senior figures in the regime accuse Israel's Mossad of the killings, and the IAEA of divulging information about its nuclear specialists that resulted in their deaths.