Iran Says ‘Ballyhoo’ Over Military Complex Won’t Hinder IAEA Inspection

  • Inspectors can take samples from around Parchin site
  • Iran expects U.S. Congress to approve Iran nuclear deal

Iran is giving international nuclear monitors the access they need to draw conclusions about past activities supposed to have taken place at its Parchin military complex, the country’s top atomic official said.

International Atomic Energy Agency investigators can take their own environmental samples at Parchin even if they aren’t allowed inside a building identified by the Vienna-based agency as a site of potential concern, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Atomic Energy Agency of Iran, said Aug. 24 in an interview.

“If we refuse them inspection of a site, as in the case of Parchin, they can take samples from around the site – called swipe sampling,” Salehi said. Concern that IAEA won’t get the access they need is “ballyhoo over nothing,” he said.

IAEA monitors agreed with Iran on July 14 to a road map expected to resolve questions about the possible military-related dimensions of Iran’s past. While inspectors have sought renewed access to Parchin for years, Iran has rebuffed requests on national-security grounds. The compromise worked out between the IAEA and Iran will allow inspectors to exercise standard verification techniques.

“Safeguards activities should be technically sound and should be able to be technically authenticated,” IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano said today at a press conference in Vienna. “Parchin meets our requirements.”

U.S. Congress

IAEA access to Parchin, a sprawling military complex 30 kilometers (19 miles) southeast of Tehran, has become a contentious issue for opponents of last month’s deal. U.S. Congressional opponents have threatened to cut off IAEA funding unless they receive confidential details of the agreement that gives inspectors access to information about Parchin.

“Firsthand information on IAEA side agreements are vital to both the debate and decision-making process for all members,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Iran expects U.S. Congress to approve the agreement or else the U.S. Administration will “see a political crisis in the international arena with loss of credibility,” Salehi said.

Confidential Details

While Iran won’t authorize the IAEA to reveal confidential details of its Parchin inspection, they don’t differ from arrangements that the agency has made with other countries, Iranian envoy Reza Najafi told reporters Tuesday in Vienna, where the agency’s 35-member board of governors convened to approve the inspection plan.

The IAEA will report its assessment of Iran’s past nuclear work by Dec. 15 in a move aimed at ending its 12-year-long probe. After that, the broader agreement between Iran and world powers, which limits Iranian nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, may come into effect.

“The deal will go into effect when the IAEA’s report on Dec. 15 closes Iran’s past and present issues and there will no longer be any contention over possible military dimensions,” said Salehi, who holds a physics degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Any path leading to any non-peaceful activity was closed in Iran and everybody concedes about the authenticity of that claim,” Salehi said. “I don’t really understand what all that argument and dispute over the deal in America are all about -- we are after engagement and not confrontation.”

Salehi traveled to China on Tuesday where he said he’d be discussing Iran’s pledge to redesign a heavy-water reactor in Arak in order to cut the amount of produced plutonium -- a heavy metal that can be used in nuclear weapons -- by about 90 percent, to less than 1 kilogram per year. China and the U.S. are helping Iran to lead the redesign.

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