Iran says no need for UN to revisit military site
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s defense minister on Saturday said there was no need for U.N. nuclear inspectors to pay another visit to the Parchin military site, where the country is suspected of having tested components used in nuclear weapons.
Gen. Hossein Dehghan was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying the IAEA had already been to the site southeast of Tehran and carried out tests there. “Besides, they have accepted that nothing happened in Parchin,” he said.
He added that Iran would not make its nuclear scientists available to the inspectors. Tehran has in the past charged the agency with leaking information that led to the assassination of scientists.
Inspectors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog have visited Parchin in the past but want to go back. Iran denies it has ever pursued nuclear weapons at Parchin, insisting it is a conventional military site.
Iran has vowed to cooperate with the IAEA as part of talks with world powers aimed at reaching a lasting agreement on its nuclear program. Western nations have long suspected Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian program and have imposed crippling sanctions, which Iran now hopes to see lifted in exchange for curbing its nuclear activities.
Iran insists it has never worked on nuclear arms, describing such allegations as based on false intelligence from Israel, as well as the U.S. and its Western allies.
At the same time, Iran has been guarded when it comes to military matters, fearing that information about its conventional capabilities could be leaked to Israel or the U.S., both of which have threatened to take military action if necessary to prevent it from getting a nuclear weapon.
Earlier this month Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told visiting IAEA head Yukia Amano that Iran’s long-range missile program will not be part of the nuclear talks.
Iran inaugurated a new plant on Saturday to convert a type of uranium into a material that cannot be used to make nuclear weapons, part of an interim accord reached with world powers last November, IRNA reported.
The report quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s nuclear agency, as saying that the plant will convert uranium hexafluoride, which can be used to make nuclear weapons and fuel, into uranium dioxide, which can only be used in reactors. The plant is located in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, the report said. Iran has a nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr that went online in 2011.