IAEA urges Iran to allow inspectors to Parchin

6 countries voice ‘regret’ about stepped-up uranium enrichment; diplomats suspect Tehran trying to clean up site

IRANIAN IAEA AMBASSADOR Ali Asghar Soltanieh 390 (photo credit: Herwig Prammer/Reuters)
IRANIAN IAEA AMBASSADOR Ali Asghar Soltanieh 390
(photo credit: Herwig Prammer/Reuters)
BERLIN/VIENNA – Six world powers called on Iran on Thursday to let international inspectors visit a military site where the UN nuclear watchdog says development work relevant to nuclear weapons may have taken place.
In a joint statement at a board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the powers also voiced “regret” over Iran’s stepped-up campaign to enrich uranium – activity which can have both civilian and military purposes.
“We urge Iran to fulfill its undertaking to grant access to Parchin,” the statement said, referring to the military facility southeast of Tehran. Iran refused access to the complex during two rounds of talks with a senior IAEA team earlier this year.
Western diplomats suspect the Islamic state may now be trying to clean up the site to remove evidence of research with nuclear applications before possibly allowing inspectors in.
The six powers handling the Iran nuclear issue are the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain.
An IAEA report last year revealed a trove of intelligence pointing to research activities in Iran in developing the means and technologies needed to assemble nuclear weapons, should it decide to do so.
One salient finding was information that Iran had built a large containment chamber at Parchin in which to conduct highexplosives tests that the IAEA said are “strong indicators of possible weapon development.”

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Iran has suggested that the IAEA could get access to Parchin, but only after a broader deal is reached on how to address all outstanding issues between Tehran and the Vienna-based agency – an approach Western diplomats dismissed as a stalling tactic.
The world powers’ statement, agreed on after intensive discussions within the often disunited group, also voiced backing for efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the long-running row.
In an interview on Wednesday with CNN, Yukiya Amano, the IAEA director-general, said, “Iran is not telling us everything. That is my impression. We are asking Iran to engage with us proactively, and Iran has a case to answer.”
Israel and the US have threatened Iran with military strikes as a last-ditch way to stop it getting nuclear weapons. British foreign secretary William Hague and Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal have also left the military option open. In an interview with the Austrian Der Standard newspaper last month, Rosenthal reaffirmed his country’s position not to rule out the possibility of military intervention.
The House of Commons in the United Kingdom in February voted 285 to six for a cross-party amendment to preserve all options targeting Iran.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, who represents the six powers in dealing with Iran, said on Tuesday they had accepted Iran’s offer to return to talks after a standstill of a year that saw increasingly bellicose rhetoric.
“We... reaffirm our continuing support for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and readiness to restart dialogue with Iran,” the powers said in their statement, read out by China’s envoy to the IAEA at the closed-door meeting.
“We call on Iran to enter, without preconditions, into a sustained process of serious dialogue which will produce concrete results.”
Iran has refused at previous talks to negotiate on the future of its nuclear activity.
Iran’s envoy to France Ali Ahani, however, rejected a demand to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment process. When asked if discussions on reducing or even cutting uranium enrichment were possible, the former deputy foreign minister replied, “No.”
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei welcomed comments by US President Barack Obama about a diplomatic “window of opportunity” offered by renewed talks, but said Washington’s simultaneous moves to “bring the Iranian people to their knees” with harsh sanctions were driven by delusion.
Iran’s rapid development of sizable quantities of uranium has raised new worries that Tehran is close to reaching the point of securing weapons grade uranium.
In a detailed article on Wednesday on the website of the US magazine National Review, Dr. Robert Zubrin , who has PhD in nuclear engineering, wrote that according to the IAEA report, “Iran already has 74 kilograms of 20- percent–enriched uranium- 235, and is producing more material at a rate of 6.8 kilograms per month. Assuming that the IAEA is correct in its figures, it would take Iran another 26 months to have enough 20%–enriched uranium- 235 material to build a bomb.”
He added though that “if the IAEA has underestimated Iran’s production rate, or if Iran continues to step up the pace, sufficient material for a bomb could be available much sooner.”