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.

 

60 killed in suicide bomb attack on Yemen army camp

Libyan forces corner IS fighters in last Sirte holdouts

18 killed in suicide attack in Iraq oasis town

Tunisia's new unity government takes office

In Saudi city of Najran, Huthis commit war crimes with indiscriminate rockets

3 Saudi children killed in Yemen cross-border shelling

Turkey's bombings kill civilians in northern Syria

Iran arrests 'nuclear spy'

Egypt frees renowned rights lawyer, Malek Adly

Libya forces launch ‘final battle for Sirte’

Dozens killed as Turkey ramps up unprecedented offensive in Syria

Iraq officially asks Saudi Arabia to change ambassador

Yemen government cautiously welcomes US peace plan

Yemen shelling kills three-year-old boy in Saudi border region

Turkey sends more tanks into Syria to bolster military offensive

Turkey arrests former top diplomats over failed coup

Tunisia swears in new premier after approval from parliament

Israeli troops shoot dead Palestinian in occupied West Bank

11 Turkish police officers killed in Cizre bomb attack claimed by PKK

French court suspends burkini ban

Tears as evacuation starts in Syria's Daraya

Turkey PM denies Syria operation singling out Kurds

Kerry, Lavrov meet for talks on Syria

Tunisia parliament to vote on cabinet proposal

Kuwait arrests govt employee promoting IS online

Turkey shells Kurdish fighters in Syria after warning

Oil prices fall on Saudi doubt on output cut

Jeddah meeting bears no fruit on Yemen conflict

Kerry in Saudi for talks on regional conflicts

UN Syria envoy expects 'impact' from Kerry-Lavrov meeting

Iraq parliament votes to impeach defense minister

Russia says will cooperate in Syria chemical attacks probe

Iraq forces take key town south of Mosul

Hamas to leave name off ballot in Palestinian elections

Iranian navy in 'unsafe' intercept of US destroyer

Three wounded in PKK attack on Turkey opposition chief's convoy

Erdogan to inaugurate Istanbul's third Bosphorus bridge

China to train Syrian troops

Turkey reinforces ground forces across border into Syria

Turkey says 'every right' to intervene if Kurds fail to withdraw

UN rights chief urges international probe of Yemen violations

Tunisia unity government to remain unchanged

Raped teen who took own life finally gets justice in Morocco

Syria rebels backed by Turkey tanks 'seize' Jarabulus

Libya's presidential council to present new cabinet