Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said late on Tuesday that Tehran is expecting the arrival of the experts “in the next few days”.

The Islamic Republic will then decide whether or not to sign the nuclear watchdog agency’s additional protocol allowing surprise inspections.

Tehran has been under mounting pressure to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) allowing the IAEA unscheduled searches of its nuclear sites.

Washington accuses Iran of plotting to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran categorically denies. Iran says it is producing electricity at its nuclear sites.

Earlier this month, European Union foreign ministers expressed their "increasing concern" over Iran's nuclear programme and demanded Tehran’s "unconditional" acceptance of the additional NPT protocol.

The EU, which is negotiating a key trade pact with Iran, said it would review its cooperation with Tehran in September, when the IAEA delivers its latest report.

Last week, Iranian President Muhammad Khatami accused the United States of seeking to topple the government in Tehran and of using the nuclear weapons allegations as a pretext.

Israel’s claims

Israel turned up the heat on Iran after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon claimed Tehran was accelerating efforts to develop nuclear arms that could strike Israel.

Sharon made the allegations during talks with US President George Bush on Tuesday.

Israeli officials also alleged Tehran was trying to undermine a month-old ceasefire declared by Palestinian resistance groups. 

Israel is the only country in the Middle East to possess nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them.