Iran's military slams nuclear cover-up claims

Defence chief denies UN allegations that Iran tried to hide traces of nuclear programme at Parchin site.

    Iran's military has denied claims by the UN nuclear watchdog that it demolished buildings at a base in a suspected attempt to cover up nuclear testing, state media has reported.

    The report quoted Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's defence minister, as saying allegations that Iran tried to erase evidence at the Parchin military base were "irrelevant and unwise".

    Iranian officials have issued similar denials over the past few weeks but this is the first by the defence minister, under whose authority the base falls.

    "The allegations are aimed at affecting nuclear talks in Moscow," Vahidi was quoted as saying, referring to the upcoming round of negotiations between Iran and six world powers in the Russian capital over Tehran's nuclear programme. 

    The West suspects Iran is trying to develop weapons technology but Iran says its programme is for peaceful purposes.

    Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency showed to its member nations satellite images indicating a cleanup of the site, saying the photos depicted water streaming out of one building, the razing of several other buildings and removal of earth at the facility.

    The activities at the Parchin military base southeast of Tehran are a recent IAEA concern, while Iran says Parchin is a conventional military base. 

    On Sunday, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the IAEA, said that Iran will not block access for the IAEA inspectors to Parchin, "if both Iran and the agency reach an agreement on the modality" of a visit.

    He said both sides will soon agree to a new round of the talks on the issue. So far, talks have led to little progress in resolving the dispute.

    Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, will visit Iran on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming talks in Moscow on Tehran's nuclear programme, as well as the Syria crisis, his ministry said.

    "The focus of attention will be on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, with the emphasis on the current transformation processes taking place in the Arab world and Syria," news agencies quoted a foreign ministry official as saying on Monday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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