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Terrorism & Security

UN inspectors get rare access to suspected Iran nuclear site

Tehran confirmed today that UN inspectors can visit Parchin, a military complex where a chamber for explosives tests has raised concerns about Iran nuclear weapons development.

By Correspondent / March 6, 2012

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano attends a board of governors meeting at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna March 5. The United Nations nuclear watchdog chief said on Monday there were indications of 'activities' taking place at an Iranian military site which his inspectors want to visit as part of an investigation into Tehran's atomic activities.

Herwig Prammer/Reuters

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Iran has agreed to let United Nations inspectors into a military complex suspected of nuclear weapons development, a day after the top inspector warned he had "serious concerns" over activities at the site.

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The semi-official Iranian Students' News Agency reported Tuesday that Iran's mission to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna confirmed inspectors would be allowed to visit the Parchin military complex, located near Tehran. "Parchin is a military site and accessing it is a time-consuming process, therefore visits cannot be allowed frequently ... We will allow the IAEA to visit it one more time," the statement said.

The Parchin complex is a weapons development site, reports Al Jazeera English, where Iran built a large containment chamber to conduct explosives tests, according to an IAEA report last year. The report said that such tests were "strong indicators" of nuclear weapons development. Reuters notes that IAEA inspectors last saw the Parchin site in 2005, but did not see the location where the chamber is now believed to be built.

The IAEA requested access to Parchin in February, but were denied by Iran, which says its nuclear program is peaceful. Al Jazeera adds that Iranian diplomats and IAEA officials have yet to comment on the report, which did not set a date for the inspectors' visit.

The Iranian Students' News Agency report comes just a day after IAEA chief Yukiya Amano expressed "serious concerns" over Parchin. The Associated Press reports that Mr. Amano said there were indications of new activity at the site, which meant that "going there sooner is better than later" for the UN inspectors. AP notes that Amano did not offer an opinion as to whether he believed the activity was linked to suspected new weapons experiments or attempts to clean up previous alleged work.

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