First Published: 2012-11-11

 

IAEA suspicious but optimistic as Iran clean-up at Parchin site continues

 

Amano says possible clean-up activities at Iranian military base which UN atomic agency wants to examine are ‘ongoing’.

 

Middle East Online

By Prashant Rao – BAGHDAD

‘I do not want to speculate’

Possible clean-up activities at an Iranian military base where the UN atomic agency wants to probe evidence of suspected nuclear weapons research are "ongoing," the watchdog's head said on Sunday.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano nevertheless expressed guarded optimism on a visit to Baghdad about talks with Iran next month, ahead of the expected release on Friday of the IAEA's latest report on the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear activities.

Western powers believe the nuclear programme is at least in part aimed at developing atomic weapons, but Tehran insists it is for peaceful purposes.

"Yes, the activities at Parchin are ongoing, but I am not in a position to discuss the details today," Amano told reporters after being asked whether Iran was continuing its clean-up of the sprawling military site near Tehran.

Western nations have accused Iran of removing evidence of past suspected weapons research activities at Parchin.

The IAEA wants Iran to grant access to Parchin, which it visited twice in 2005 but wants to examine again.

Since the summer, some buildings at the base have been covered in massive tarpaulins to prevent surveillance by Western satellites.

Amano also said he believed there was "good reason" that Iran would cooperate with the IAEA over the issue of Tehran's nuclear programme.

"I am very much convinced that... the IAEA has an essential role to play in solving this issue, Iran nuclear issue, through diplomatic means," he said at a joint news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

"It is in the interests of Iran, and for the international community, and that is why I believe that there is some good reason that Iran will get cooperative for us. At the same time, the situation is very difficult and worrying. I do not want to speculate."

The IAEA said on Friday after a four-month hiatus, caused in part by the US election campaign, that it would hold talks with Iran in Tehran on December 13.

The agency wants to press Iran to address what the watchdog calls "credible" evidence suggesting that until 2003, and possibly since, Iran conducted research work "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."

Iran denies working or ever having worked on a nuclear weapon, and says that the IAEA's evidence, set out in a major report a year ago, is based on forgeries.

In particular the IAEA wants Tehran to give inspectors access to the Parchin base.

Western nations have accused Iran of removing evidence there and the IAEA said in August that activities spotted from space would "significantly hamper" its ability to inspect the site.

A parallel diplomatic push by six world powers has been aimed at persuading Iran to scale back parts of its current nuclear programme, in particular uranium enrichment.

Efforts on both "tracks" have, however, were effectively put on hold because of campaigning for the US presidential election that incumbent Barack Obama won on Tuesday.

The last high-level talks between Iran and the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany -- were held in Moscow in June.

The UN Security Council has imposed four sets of sanctions on the Islamic regime, which coupled with unilateral Western restrictions on its oil sector and banks have begun to cause major problems this year for its economy.

Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state, has refused to rule out military action against Iran to prevent its arch-rival from also acquiring nuclear weapons.

 

Palestinians react to death of Peres

Syrian army retakes rebel-held Aleppo district

UN Libya envoy warns against ‘political impasse’

Morocco finally adopts Amazigh as official language

Saudi petition seeks 'full' rights for women

Poverty takes toll in rebel-held Yemen fishing village

Kerry threatens to end negotiations with Russia on Syria

Kuwaiti court scraps petrol price hike

Iraq requests more US troops to take on IS in Mosul

Airstrikes hit hospitals in rebel-held Aleppo

Iran nuclear chief says not worried about Trump

Iranian, Italian ships hold manoeuvres in Strait of Hormuz

Gunmen kill three Egypt policemen, civilian in Sinai

Turkey says 32,000 coup suspects awaiting trial

Paris to host international meeting on Libya

Etihad plane in emergency landing in Abu Dhabi

Struggling Saudi Oger lays off 1,300 staff

Israel ex-PM to serve 27 months for graft

Syrian kids return to school in Manbij

World Bank releases $300 million for Syrian refugees in Jordan

Iranian FM in Ankara for Syria talks

Israeli ex-president Peres dies

Oil prices post marginal gains

Russia tries to strongarm US with Aleppo assault

Jordan vows crackdown on online incitement

Assad, Russia press intense Aleppo assault

Iran's Ahmadinejad says will not run for president

Boris Johnson dismisses Erdogan goat poem as 'trivia'

Turkey dismisses 87 spy agency staff over failed coup

Egypt recovers sunken boat, more bodies

Israel's Peres 'fighting for his life'

Bombings kill at least seventeen in Baghdad

Netanyahu chooses diplomacy in US election

Iran sets conditions for joining terror finance taskforce

Who is the destroyer of Timbuktu shrines?

Israel to charge Lieberman party officials in graft probe

Egypt detains owner of capsized migrant vessel

Countless bombings in Baghdad’s Karrada since 2003 US-led invasion

Clinton, Trump clash in fiery first presidential debate

Moroccan gets death threat messages over cartoon posted by killed Jordanian

Saudi king unveils austerity drive

Israel prosecutor general denies going easy on PM

Iran frees Iranian-Canadian academic

Supplies dwindle, strikes intensify in Syria's Aleppo

Rebels, civilians quit Homs under deal with regime