Iran denies IAEA access to military site

Iran claims access to the site does fall under the agreed upon seven steps to enhance cooperation between the two

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Iran announced on Sunday it has not granted the U.N. atomic watchdog access to the Parchin military site, where the agency suspects experiments relating to nuclear weapons development may have occurred.

Iran cited tha the visit would not fall under seven steps the Islamic Repubilc and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had agreed on.

“Visiting Parchin is not included in the seven steps,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy organization, told the ISNA news agency, referring to elements of an agreement reached Sunday.

The Islamic Republic agreed on seven “practical steps” with the IAEA in talks seeking further safeguards to enhance transparency on Tehran’s nuclear drive, an Iranian nuclear official said.

The steps are meant to be implemented by May 15, Iran’s envoy to the Vienna-based body, Reza Najafi, told the ISNA news agency.

Sunday’s statement comes nine days before Tehran and world powers, building on a landmark interim deal that took effect last month, start talks on a long-term accord on Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

The spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Behrouz Kamalvandi, was reported on Friday as saying that Iran’s aim was “to answer the IAEA’s questions” at the talks.

Diplomats are cautiously optimistic that after Saturday’s talks in Tehran the team of senior IAEA inspectors will be able to show some progress in gaining Iran’s cooperation.

Iran-IAEA ties have improved since last year’s election of relatively moderate leader Hassan Rowhani as president of Iran on a platform to ease the country’s international isolation.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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