World powers pressed Iran yesterday to grant UN inspectors access to alleged nuclear research sites inside the country, amid reports that Iran is moving to clean up a key military installation outside Tehran.
The request came as Western officials confirmed that satellite photos in recent weeks have shown earth-moving equipment and other construction gear arriving at the Parchin military base, a facility about 20 miles southeast of the capital that has become the focus of a UN investigation into alleged Iranian research on nuclear warheads. US and European officials are concerned that Iran is trying to decontaminate the site by removing any traces of nuclear research.
Iranian officials said earlier in the week that IAEA inspectors would be allowed to visit the site, but later said that no visit would be permitted until all outstanding disputes between Iran and the UN agency had been resolved. The dispute over the site comes as the six world powers are preparing for the first nuclear talks with Iran in over a year.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in D.C. that it was vital that Iran show “openness and transparency” about its past nuclear activities if the talks were to be successful. “We continue to believe we have space for diplomacy,” Clinton said. She called for Iran to be “prepared to have the kind of serious and sincere discussion we have been looking for, for several years.”
Prime Minister David Cameron will be in Washington next week for meetings with Barak Obama, where Iran’s nuclear threat will be high on the agenda.