Middle East

No assurances of access to Iran site -UN nuclear watchdog

FILE -A file satellite image taken Sunday Sept. 27, 2009, provided by DigitalGlobe, shows a suspected nuclear enrichment facility under construction inside a mountain located north of Qom, Iran. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe, File)

MEXICO CITY: The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday the agency does not know if during talks later this month Iran would give it access to a military site named in a report that said Iran could have worked on nuclear weapons.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, said at an event in Mexico City that he hopes a second round of talks with Iranian leaders scheduled for Feb. 20-21 "will be a good, constructive one."

Three days of talks in Tehran between IAEA experts and Iranian officials at the end of last month produced little progress toward resolving disputes about Iran's nuclear program, Western diplomats said.

The IAEA sought access to the Parchin military complex, named in a November report by the agency that said Iran appeared to have worked on designing nuclear bombs.

Asked if the agency would get access to Parchin, Amano said "We don't know yet."

"Parchin is not the only issue. Our objective is to clarify all the other issues and this cannot be done overnight but we hope that there will be a concrete outcome," he told Reuters in an interview, adding that the last meeting was not conclusive.

The United States and Israel have not ruled out military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to resolve the long-running nuclear dispute.

Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and rejects allegations that it is building atomic weapons. It has refused to stop uranium enrichment and has vowed to retaliate over oil sanctions imposed by Western countries and any military attack.

Suspicions about activities at Parchin, southeast of Tehran, date back at least to 2004 when a prominent nuclear expert said satellite images showed it may be a site for research and testing relevant for nuclear weapons.

United Nations inspectors were allowed into the site a year later but not to areas where the November report said an explosives chamber was built.

Amano is hoping the exchanges with the Iranians will lead to real progress in the new talks.

"On our part we will continue to be taking a constructive approach and I expect an equally constructive approach on their part," he said at the event commemorating the 45th anniversary of a regional anti-nuclear proliferation treaty.





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