International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts on Monday began assessing strengthened counterterrorism measures implemented at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in central Japan, with the plant operator hoping a positive outcome will persuade local officials to approve a restart.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (Tepco) requested the five-person IAEA delegation conduct the inspection, which runs through April 2, at the seven-reactor complex in Niigata Prefecture to determine whether the operator's preventative measures meet international standards after a series of safety flaws came to light, resulting in a two-year operational ban that ended in December.

"The purpose of the expert mission is to assess the enhancement of physical protection measures of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station (to protect nuclear materials and facilities) and to provide further advice as necessary to the facility operator," an IAEA representative said at a meeting with Tepco officials at the complex, which was open to the media.