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.

 

Turkey, Saudi Arabia could launch anti-ISIS ground operation in Syria

Saudi Foreign Minister: No Assad in the future, period!

Sadr loses patience with stalled progress on Iraq reform package

French PM warns major terrorist attacks will hit Europe again

Pope mends 1,000-year-old rift with Russian Patriarch

Russia sees ‘new Cold War’ amid strains with West

Assad vows to retake whole of Syria ‘while negotiating’

Israel denies dropping controversial Brazil envoy pick

Yemen loyalist forces advance towards Sanaa

Italian PM warns Egypt friendship on the line

Tunisia prepares for possible intervention in Libya

UAE to deploy jets, commandos in anti-IS campaign

100,000 refugees in Syria border camps near Turkey

Greece given three-month ultimatum to remedy border ‘deficiencies’

Ankara hails world powers' Syria ceasefire plan

Five Yemen police killed in ‘Qaeda’ attack in Aden

Kuwait to finalise Eurofighter jet deal with Italy

S.Sudan president names arch-rival his deputy

Berlin film fest competition kicks off with Arab film

War-torn Syria gears towards 'cessation of hostilities'

Iraqi PM urges Kurdistan to drop any plans for independence

Russia accuses US planes of hitting Aleppo

Anti-ISIS coalition looks to decisive new phase

Turkey, Israel open new normalisation talks

Assault on Aleppo displaces tens of thousands

Moroccan King inaugurates Aquaculture Farm in Oued Ed-dahab

Turkish forces end operation in southern town

NATO launches unprecedented Aegean migrant naval mission

Erdogan threatens to send millions of refugees to EU

Suspected PKK militants attack two Turkey pro-govt newspapers

Train derails in Egypt’s Bani Sueif province

Iranians mark 37 years since Islamic revolution

Moscow ready to discuss modalities of ceasefire in Syria

Egypt hires UK firm to review Sharm security

Tunisia makes $500 million from assets of ousted president

Turkey dismisses pressure to open borders as 'hypocritical'

Efforts to form Libya unity government stumble over defence portfolio

Iran blames failure of Syria peace talks on participation of ‘terrorists’

Syria opposition hopes for end of sieges

UAE names women state ministers in major government shake-up

French Foreign Minister steps down with criticism of US role in Syria

Germany hopes Syria talks in Munich will agree to provide aid

Syrian Kurdish separatists open Moscow representation

Jordan rejects France extradition request for 1982 terror attack suspects

Libya parliament extends deadline for formation of new unity government