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Middle East
Iran 'to allow military site inspection'
Tehran agrees to allow nuclear inspectors to visit Parchin complex, Iranian media says, after IAEA cites new concerns.
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2012 11:20
Iran recently unveiled what it described as 'very big achievements' in nuclear science [Reuters]

Iran has said it will allow international inspectors access to its Parchin military complex, according to the ISNA news agency, after the head of the UN nuclear watchdog raised concerns about activities at the site.

The Iranian news agency reported on Tuesday that Iran's diplomatic mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna had confirmed that inspectors could visit the site.

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"Parchin is a military site and accessing it is a time-consuming process, therefore visits cannot be allowed frequently ... We will allow the IAEA to visit it one more time," the statement said.

AN IAEA team were denied access to Parchin during high-level talks in Tehran in February. The statement did not set a date for a further visit, while Iranian diplomats and IAEA officials have not commented on the statement.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the IAEA, said on Monday that Iran had tripled its monthly production of higher-grade enriched uranium and expressed "serious concerns" about possible military dimensions to Tehran's atomic activities.

Iran says that it is developing nuclear technology for peaceful civilian purposes.

But an IAEA report last year said that Iran had built a large containment chamber at Parchin, southeast of Tehran, to conduct explosives tests that were "strong indicators" of efforts to develop a nuclear device.

Parchin is a weapons development site owned by Iran's Defence Industries Organisation, a group of state-owned military companies.

The IAEA was granted access to parts of the facility in November 2005, and a subsequent report documented no "unusual activities" nor the presence of nuclear material.

Mounting pressure

Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of political science at Tehran University, told Al Jazeera there was "nothing" to suggest that the county was seeking to acquire nuclear weapons and said some Iranians may have voted in last week's parliamentary elections as a show of support for their government in the face of mounting international pressure. 

"There are some observers who stated that one of the reasons why some Iranians voted last week was in order to say to the US and Israeli governments that as Iranians they are backing their own government," said Zibakalam.

Asked about the threat of a possible strike on Iran, he responded: "What is a military strike going to achieve?"

The US and its Western allies are seeking Russian and Chinese backing to rebuke Iran at the week-long IAEA board meeting, that began on Monday, over its failure to address the agency's growing concerns.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, reiterated his country's concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, and in talks with US President Barack Obama in Washington.

"We leave all options on the table and containment is not an option. The Jewish state will not allow those who seek Israel's destruction the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear-armed Iran must be stopped."

In an earlier address to AIPAC, Obama called on Israel to allow time for diplomatic efforts and sanctions to work and cautioned against “loose talk of war”.

Iran's refusal to curb sensitive atomic work that can have both civilian and military applications has drawn increasingly tough UN and Western sanctions against the major oil producer.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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