May 18, 2013
UN nuclear chief urges immediate access to Iran site
UN nuclear watchdog chief pressed Iran today to grant his inspectors immediate access to the Parchin military site, where they believe Tehran may have conducted explosives tests relevant to the development of nuclear weapons.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also said the IAEA and Iran had made no concrete progress in talks that began in January aimed at allaying concern about suspected atom bomb research in the Islamic state.
Western powers may seize on his statement to a closed-door session of the IAEA's 35-nation governing board to strengthen their case for further increasing international pressure on Tehran, one of the world's largest oil producers.
Amano made his comments one day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel and the United States were in discussion on setting a "red line" for Iran's nuclear programme.
Israel, believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, sees the possibility of Iran developing an atomic bomb as a threat to its existence and has said it may use military means if diplomacy and sanctions fail.
European Union heavyweights Britain, France and Germany called last week for new sanctions and Canada has unexpectedly severed ties with the country.
The lack of concrete results despite months of discussions between the IAEA and Iran was "frustrating", Amano said.
"We consider it essential for Iran to engage with us without further delay on the substance of our concerns," the veteran Japanese diplomat said, according to a copy if his speech.
"Without Iran's full engagement, we will not be able to start the process to resolve all outstanding issues, including those concerning possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme," Amano said.
Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, earlier told reporters that Tehran would "continue" to cooperate with the UN agency but that the Islamic Republic's national security must be taken into consideration.
Iran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and is aimed at producing electricity, not making nuclear bombs.