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The insider's guide: Iran's nuclear tourism

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Iran has announced it will allow foreign tourists to visit its nuclear facilities -- a novel approach to calming the world's fears about its nuclear program. What could you expect from a visit, and should you take the kids or the Geiger counter?

So what is there to see?

A rich mix and that's not just the uranium. You could take your pick of the three nuclear facilities from the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz 170 miles south of Tehran, the uranium conversion facility outside Isfahan in the center of the country or the Islamic Republic's first nuclear plant being built in the southern port city of Bushehr on the Persian Gulf. As a new destination on the country's tourist trail, I shouldn't expect much -- probably no visitors' center or restaurant, so not much chance of a children's birthday party being held here, unlike at Britain's Sellafield power station.

Should I pack my shades?

While a tour around a nuclear facility has the potential to brighten anybody's day, the Iranian tourist office hasn't indicated when the tours will take place. Weather-wise though, autumn is probably the best time of year to visit, summer can be scorching while winters, bitterly cold, especially in the north of the country. Nor have the authorities said which foreign tourists will be allowed to visit. If a bill being debated by the country's parliament is passed, U.S. citizens will have their fingerprints taken on arrival, first, like all other foreign nationals, they'll have to secure a visa to enter the country.

Once you've seen one nuclear facility you've seen them all. What else should I do while I'm here?

If you're around Bushehr and tire of the delights of a Russian-designed reactor take a trip inland to Shiraz, a cosmopolitan city and the medieval capital of Persia. Today it's a university town with tree-lined streets and numerous mosques and monuments. From there a visit to the ruins of Persepolis, the ancient palace destroyed by Alexander the Great in 331BC, is a must. If you travel to the capital, Tehran's National Jewellery Museum, guarded by machine-gun-toting guards is a shining gem in the otherwise dirty and chaotic city.

I'm feeling active ...

Hopefully not radioactive. But if you want some outdoor pursuits then strap on your skis at Dizin, the country's main resort in the Alborz mountains, just one and a half hours north of Tehran. You can snow-plough your way down the slopes with the country's wealthy elite while Mount Damavand the country's highest mountain looms in the background. At the other end of the country, the coral-ringed island of Kish in the Persian Gulf has some great diving sites and more liberal attitudes, relatively speaking, with until recently, mixed beaches. But really, if you want a beach holiday, France may be a better option -- there are plenty more nuclear facilities to visit there.


An ideal photo opportunity at Isfahan nuclear facility in central Iran.

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