IAEA Says To Meet With Iran Over Access To Parchin Site
June 04, 2012
by Charles Recknagel
VIENNA -- The United Nations nuclear watchdog and Iran will meet on June 8, as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seeks to secure access to investigate activities at Iran's Parchin military site.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, announcing the meeting on June 4 in Vienna, urged Iran to provide "early access" to Parchin, where research linked to nuclear weapons is suspected of having been carried out.
The Islamic republic denies performing any work related to atomic weapons.
The IAEA has cited new satellite images it says suggest "extensive activities" at Parchin, including the razing of two buildings, in what experts say could be signs of a clean-up following explosives tests.
The nuclear watchdog has been seeking access to Parchin for months, but so far has been denied by Tehran.
Iran says the site is not linked to its nuclear program and so it is not obliged to allow inspections.
Amano said Tehran has so far failed to provide credible assurance that its nuclear activities have entirely peaceful purposes.
"Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities," he said.
RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel reports from IAEA headquarters in Vienna that the agreement which the IAEA is inviting Iran to discuss on June 8 -- the so-called Structured Approach document -- asks Iran to answer only the IAEA's questions about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program.
The document, which is not expected to be signed at this week's meeting, does not cover other major outstanding issues in the Iran nuclear crisis, such as Iran's failure so far to ratify an Additional Protocol authorizing IAEA inspectors to make unannounced checks of any and all nuclear facilities when and where the inspectors may want.
Nor does it cover the UN Security Council's demand that Iran suspend uranium enrichment work that could be directed toward development of a nuclear weapon.
Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, spoke to RFE/RL about whether he expects progress on the new cooperation agreement.
"The important thing is that this cooperation has to be in a very quiet environment," Soltanieh said. "The more politicizing there is of issues that are technical in nature, the more this environment will, in fact, be jeopardized. Therefore, I have always advised that the IAEA and Iran do their own professional work."
The comments came as the IAEA governing board on June 4 in Vienna opened a closed-door meeting expected to focus on the Iranian nuclear program.
The meeting comes with Iran and six world powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States -- preparing to hold another round of talks on the nuclear issue in Moscow on June 18-19. The sides held inconclusive talks in Baghdad in May.
Western powers in recent months have tightened sanctions on Iran by targeting the Islamic republic's banking sector and oil exports, Tehran's chief source of foreign revenue. The European Union is planning to halt imports of Iranian oil as of July.
Iran is also already under four rounds of UN sanctions aimed at pressing Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment and answer all outstanding questions about its nuclear activities.
With additional reporting by AFP and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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