Nuclear inspectors in Iran; no sign of key site visit

Updated: 2012-12-14 09:24

(Agencies/China Daily)

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UN atomic watchdog experts arrived in Iran on Thursday to renew efforts to engage Teheran over its disputed nuclear program, but media reports said an inspection visit to suspect sites was off the agenda.

The seven-strong International Atomic Energy Agency team was scheduled to hold closed-door sessions with officials during its one-day stop in the Iranian capital, Iranian Students' News Agency reported.

"If the talks are progressing constructively, the IAEA team will be able to stay as long as necessary," a Vienna-based diplomat said.

The IAEA says the talks aim to reach an agreement on a "structured approach" for Teheran to address allegations of weaponization and for the watchdog to gain broader access to Iran's nuclear sites and people working in the program.

The agency also wants to inspect Parchin, a restricted military complex near Teheran where the IAEA suspects experiments with explosives capable of triggering a nuclear weapon could have been carried out.

"We also hope that Iran will allow us to go the site of Parchin, and if Iran would grant us access we would welcome that chance and we are ready to go," team leader chief inspector Herman Nackaerts told reporters at Vienna airport on Wednesday before leaving for the Islamic republic.

But the ISNA said "no plans were announced yet for inspectors to visit Iran's nuclear facilities or other sites", without giving a source.

Thursday's talks are the latest in a string of fruitless meetings this year between Iran and the IAEA, with the latest in August in the Austrian capital.

One Vienna diplomat said that the team in Teheran is larger than in past visits in February and in May, and now includes two "technical experts" who could conduct verification work at Parchin - if invited to do so.

Iran denies seeking or ever having sought the bomb and has refused the IAEA access to Parchin, saying that as a non-nuclear site the agency has no right to conduct inspections.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Tuesday the visit would focus on discussions regarding "Iran's nuclear rights as well as its peaceful nuclear activities".

But "certain issues that have possibly become a source of concern for (IAEA) officials can also be discussed," he said, without being more specific.

Subject to international sanctions, Iran rejects as baseless suspicions by Western governments and echoed by the IAEA that it intends to develop a nuclear weapons capability under the guise of its energy program.

Teheran stresses that IAEA demands to examine Parchin exceed Iran's obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which it is a signatory.


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