The United Nation’s nuclear watchdog says it plans to press for access to the Parchin military complex during talks today with Iran in Vienna. The International Atomic Energy Agency suspect’s nuclear weapons research is being carried out at the site. Recent satellite images also suggest Iran is trying to hide evidence of this activity.
Ahead of talks in Vienna, Western diplomats are sceptical that a breakthrough will be reached, but will be watching the IAEA-Iran meeting closely to assess whether Tehran is ready to make concessions.
Diplomats and analysts assess Iran may offer the IAEA increased cooperation as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN security council plus Germany) on 18-19 June in Moscow. These talks are aimed at defusing tension over Iran’s nuclear programme that has led to increasingly tough Western sanctions on Iran.
Going into today’s talks in Vienna, both Iran and the IAEA say significant progress has been made on a framework agreement to resume a long-stalled UN investigation into Tehran’s atomic activities. However, wide gaps remain on how the IAEA should conduct its probe. The United States said earlier this week it doubted whether Iran would give the UN agency the kind of access to sites, documents and officials it needs: “I’m not optimistic,” Robert Wood, the acting US envoy to the IAEA, told reporters on the side-lines of a meeting of the UN agency’s governing board. “I certainly hope that an agreement will be reached but I’m not certain Iran is ready.”
His skepticism was reinforced by defiant remarks by Tehran’s envoy to the IAEA, Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh, who accused the UN body on Wednesday of acting like a Western-manipulated spy service and said that Iran’s military activities were none of its business.
The IAEA wants Iran to address concerns over intelligence information, like satellite imagery and an image from inside the Parachin military base of an explosive containment chamber, pointing to research and tests in Iran relevant for developing a nuclear weapons capability.