Bloomberg News

Atomic Investigators Meet With Iran Over Access to Sites

August 24, 2012

United Nations atomic investigators are meeting with Iranian officials to try to gain access to disputed documents, people and sites allegedly linked to the Persian Gulf nation’s nuclear work.

Today’s meeting in Iran’s embassy in Vienna is the first face-to-face discussion since talks over a so-called structured approach to the atomic investigation broke down in June.

“We are here today to continue our discussions with Iran and seek agreement on a structured approach to resolve all the outstanding issues,” Herman Nackaerts, the IAEA’s top atomic inspector, told reporters as he arrived at the embassy. “Of course we will also ask Iran where they are with their responses to our request for access to Parchin and other questions.”

The IAEA, which said earlier this week it was skeptical that a deal will be reached, is preparing to issue its quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear work. The Islamic Republic has steadily increased its supply of enriched uranium, the key ingredient for atomic power and weapons, since beginning the industrial process in 2006.

New Centrifuges

Iran has installed hundreds of new centrifuges at its mountainside Fordo facility in recent months and may be accelerating production of nuclear fuel, the New York Times reported, citing unidentified diplomats. The IAEA said in June that Iran had already installed pipes and casings for hundreds of additional machines beyond the 500 in operation. The Fordo complex is built to house 3,000 centrifuges, the IAEA said.

The last meeting between Iran and the IAEA collapsed on June 8. Inspectors want access to sites, including the Parchin military complex, beyond what is mandated by the agency’s agreements with the country. While Iran’s declared nuclear facilities have been subject to 4,000 man-days of inspections since 2003, the IAEA has said it cannot ensure inspectors have seen the full scope of the country’s atomic work.

Mariano Grossi, the IAEA’s assistant director general for policy, is due along with Nackaerts to attend today’s talks. Iran’s IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, will head his country’s negotiating team, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported on its website.

It will be the sixth round of talks since the IAEA and Iran began negotiations over widening access to suspect facilities. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano announced an agreement on May 22, only to have the breakthrough fall apart two weeks later amid Iranian accusations of spying.

Commercial satellite images show Iran has completed cleanup activity at a suspected nuclear weapons-related site, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security wrote in a July 31 report. The IAEA received intelligence information from member states that allegedly show Iran built a blast chamber at Parchin that could be used to test nuclear-bomb components.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Tirone in Vienna at jtirone@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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