UN Watchdog Says Access To Suspected Iran Nuclear Site Meets Demands

A 2012 satellite photo of the Parchin explosives test building. (DigitalGlobe via Getty)

A 2012 satellite photo of the Parchin explosives test building. (DigitalGlobe via Getty)

By Barak Ravid

The International Atomic Energy Association said Thursday that it was satisfied by the access its inspectors would receive to the Parchin military site, where the Iranians are suspected of experimenting with components to create a nuclear bomb.

The IAEA’s statement to this regard comes a day after the Associated Press released details of a draft agreement between the IAEA and Iran, which enables the Iranians to inspect the Parchin site without the presence of UN inspectors. The IAEA said that it was committed to keeping the contents of the agreement secret, but that the understandings reached by the two sides adequately satisfy UN requirements and simultaneously meet Iran’s demands.
“The separate arrangements of the roadmap are consistent with the IAEA verification practice and they meet the IAEA requirements,” the IAEA said.

An AP expose of the draft agreement reached between Iran and the IAEA initially said Wednesday that Iranian representatives would be able to inspect Parchin without any intervention by UN inspectors, who would not even be allowed into the suspected compound.

A few hours after AP released the initial details of the agreement, a revised report emerged overwriting some of the more troubling issues pertaining to the inspection of Parchin.

For instance, the news agency removed from its report the claim that it was Iranian scientists themselves who would be inspecting the air and soil samples at Parchin, rather than UN inspectors. It also removed the claim that the number of air and soil samples taken from within suspected nuclear sites would be limited to seven.

It is not clear why the original report was updated to this extent, with some of the original points removed. The Associated Press did not release a statement of clarification or explanation regarding the updates of the report, which it has presented as an exclusive expose based on the agreement reached between Iran and the IAEA.

Later on Thursday, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano issued a statement rejecting the report, saying “Such statements misrepresent the way in which we will undertake this important verification work.” Amano further said that he was not able to discuss the details of the agreement with Iran as he was legally bound to confidentiality but added that “The Road-map between Iran and the IAEA is a very robust agreement.”

Under the roadmap agreement Iran reached with the UN nuclear watchdog alongside the political deal, Iran is required to give the IAEA enough information about its past nuclear program to allow it to write a report on the issue by year-end.
Without IAEA confirmation that Iran is keeping its promises enshrined in a landmark nuclear deal Tehran reached with world powers on July 14, the country will not be granted much-needed sanctions relief.

The inspection of the suspected site in Parchin was one of the central issues underlining the IAEA’s investigation into the military possibilities of the Iranian nuclear program – that is, suspicions that Iran has been carrying out a military nuclear weapons program to create an atomic bomb.

The conclusion of the IAEA’s investigation was one of the conditions set in the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers for the removal of sanctions.

This agreement was kept classified, and its details were not revealed to the six powers, who received only an oral and general briefing on the matter from IAEA chief Yukiya Amano. Amano even briefed a number of senior American senators on the matter, but would not reveal details of the deal with Iran.

In response to the publication of the details, the White House said that the Obama administration trusted the IAEA in its investigation, stressing that the procedure of the investigation and inspection on site dealt with activities Iran had carried out in the past.