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Monday, February 06, 2012

IAEA inspectors blocked from plant where weapons development suspected

Over the weekend, IAEA inspectors were in Iran. But they were not given access to the Parchin military base, where it is suspected that Iran is constructing nuclear weapons.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) named Parchin in a detailed report in November that lent independent weight to Western fears that Iran is working to develop an atomic bomb, an allegation Iranian officials reject.

The UN agency has not said whether the issue was among those it raised in the January 29-31 discussions in Tehran aimed at shedding light on possible nuclear-linked weapons development work, but diplomats accredited to the IAEA said it was.

The senior IAEA team requested "access to Parchin, which Iran did not provide", one Western diplomat said.

He and others suggested that Iran had sidestepped the question rather than rejected it outright during the meetings with the IAEA delegation headed by the agency's global inspections chief, Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts.

"They asked to see a particular site and they never got an answer," another envoy said. "The bottom line is: Iran did not engage the agency on the issues the agency wanted to discuss."

Iranian officials were not immediately available for comment. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi this week described the Tehran talks as "very good", without giving details.

Last year's IAEA report laid bare a trove of intelligence pointing to research activities in Iran relevant for developing the means and technologies needed to assemble nuclear weapons, should it decide to do so.

One key finding was information that Iran had built a large containment chamber at Parchin southeast of Tehran in which to conduct high-explosives tests, which the UN agency said are "strong indicators of possible weapon development".
But let's keep pretending that they're not developing nuclear weapons. It's worked so well up to now....

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