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Thursday, October 27, 2016

VIENNA (Reuters) – The U.N. nuclear watchdog, which is investigating whether Iran carried out work related to developing a nuclear bomb, said on Sunday its chief had visited a sensitive military site during a trip to the country.

The visit is a highly symbolic move by the agency, which has not visited the Parchin site in a decade and has faced accusations that it reached an agreement with Tehran restricting its ability to investigate at the sprawling complex.

Under a road map agreement accompanying a July deal with world powers, the IAEA is due to issue an assessment this year on “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program. One open question is whether Iran carried out high-explosives testing at Parchin related to making a nuclear warhead.

“The director general visited the site of Parchin, together with the head of the Department of Safeguards, Tero Varjoranta,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the IAEA declined to provide details on the visit by its director general, Yukiya Amano. Tehran denies having conducted research related to nuclear weapons at Parchin, 30 km (19 miles) southeast of Tehran, or anywhere else.

IAEA access to Parchin was one of the most sensitive issues in negotiations that led to the July deal between Iran and six world powers – the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia – which provides for restrictions on Iranian nuclear activities in exchange for a lifting of sanctions.

Under that deal, Iran cannot receive its promised sanctions relief until it clears up outstanding IAEA questions about past research that Western powers suspect was related to the development of nuclear weapons.

A confidential plan for IAEA inspections at the Parchin site has led to differing reports on how they will be carried out. Some critics of the U.S. administration have said Iran has been given too much leeway to conduct the inspections itself, including in taking environmental samples.

The IAEA has said it has a legal obligation to keep details of the arrangement confidential, but insists it is technically sound and will ensure the samples are not compromised.

Under that arrangement, the samples will be taken by Iranian technicians while IAEA experts present at Parchin observe and oversee the process, Western diplomats told Reuters.

The exact nature of Amano’s visit to the site on Sunday was not immediately clear. Iranian state media described it as ceremonial rather than an inspection of the sprawling site.

“Yukiya Amano visited the road construction near Parchin facilities,” Behruz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

The visit to Parchin was part of a one-day trip to Iran on Sunday in which Amano met President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the head of the AEOI, Ali Akbar Salehi, and Iranian lawmakers, the IAEA said in its statement.

“Discussions with high-level Iranian officials focused on the continued implementation of the roadmap to resolve all past and present outstanding issues,” the statement said.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna; Additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in Dubai and Louis Charbonneau in New York; editing by Andrew Roche)

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano (L) meets Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (R) in Tehran, September 20, 2015. REUTERS/

  • Lynda Groom

    Has anyone passed along this terrible news to the republicans in Congress and those running for the president? Oh the horror, the horror.

  • Dominick Vila

    The first thing we must keep in mind, when it comes to the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, is that the Republican opposition to the agreement is not based on concerns over specific requirements in the agreement, or the evidence. The argument presented by the GOP thus far are dire crystal ball predictions of what may happen if we give verifiable, peaceful coexistence a chance, lift the punitive sanctions, including unfreezing Iranian deposits in European banks, in exchange for concessions that just a decade ago would have been inconceivable.
    The agreement makes it impossible for Iran to enrich weapons grade uranium, and ends plutonium development in Arak. Without those components, Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon.
    Fear mongering has been used time and again by the GOP to get their way. The problem this time is that the entire world is looking at us in disbelief when they hear the absurdities articulated by people running for the highest office in the world.

    • CPAinNewYork

      Another reason the Republicans oppose the treaty is that many of them have accepted large political contributions from the American Jewish community, personified by AIPAC, and so are taking their marching orders from Jerusalem and and not from the American electorate.

      I doing that they render themselves ridiculous in the eyes of thinking people.

      • Dominick Vila

        I agree. I thought accepting political donations from foreign governments, or institutions, was against the law? Should we assume Israel became the 51st state and we all missed that momentous event?

  • bobnstuff

    How long does it take to create a Atomic Bomb? Can it be done without the world knowing about it? If you look at history you would know that without computers or knowing how to do it to begin with it took 4 years. and can be done without the world knowing We did it in the 1940’s. If Iran truly wanted the bomb they would have had it years ago.

    • johninPCFL

      Agreed. Without the overarching safety systems necessary to build a plant in the US, a new nuclear facility in Iran would be far cheaper to own and operate than continuing to burn oil that they can sell on the world market. Anyone but the GOP (who is in the oilcos pocket) can see that.

      Owning a nuclear weapon is only good for hitting Israel. Once Israel hits back they’ve lost their reason for having the weapon, and they’ve committed suicide. They seem brighter than that.

    • JPHALL

      My only disagreement is that when we did make a bomb, the other powers knew we were working on a bomb just like we knew the Germans were doing the same.

      • bobnstuff

        I stated based on what I remembered from school all those years ago but after reading your post I looked it up, Top secret that wasn’t very secret. I think it is worth reading more about.