The head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says he is "disturbed" by a report suggesting his organization has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran.
IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said in a statement on August 20 that such statements "misrepresent the way in which we will undertake this important verification work."
The AP news agency reported on August 19 that it had viewed a draft of a confidential agreement between Iran and the IAEA, in which Iranian inspectors would inspect the nuclear site at Parchin, which is suspected of having been used for tests linked to the development of nuclear arms.
Amano noted that, while the side deal is confidential, "I can state that the arrangements are technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices."
He added: "They do not compromise our safeguards standards in any way."
There was swift reaction to the AP report in the United States among opponents of the nuclear deal, which will be voted on in the U.S. Congress next month.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (Republican-California) said: "International inspections should be done by international inspectors. Period."
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush also called the deal a "farce."
"Nuclear inspections of state sponsors of terrorism can't work on the honor system," he said.
The White House said after the AP report was released that it has confidence in the IAEA.
"We are confident in the agency's technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran's former program, issues that in some cases date back more than a decade," said National Security Council spokesman Ned Price on August 19.
Price said the confidential IAEA-Iran agreement was "unique to the agency's investigation of Iran's historical activities."
And House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi noted that the AP's reported side deal relates to investigations of past military work, not nuclear issues in the future.
"I truly believe in this agreement," she said.
Behruz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran's nuclear agency, was quoted on state TV as saying that the AP report was "media speculation."
The document seen by AP was labeled "separate arrangement II," indicating there is another "separate arrangement" between the IAEA and Iran.
A satellite image released by the U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security shows the status of the site at the Parchin military complex, which has been linked to high explosive work related to the development of nuclear weapons in Iran.
The draft paper suggests that, instead of carrying out their own probe, IAEA staff will monitor Iranian personnel as they inspect the Parchin nuclear site.
IAEA inspectors have been denied access to Parchin for several years and Iran has denied any interest in, or previous work on, nuclear weapons.
The IAEA says -- based on satellite images -- that it suspects Iran may have experimented with high-explosive detonators for nuclear arms at Parchin and completed additional weapons-related work at other sites.
The IAEA has repeatedly cited evidence, again based on satellite images, of possible attempts to sanitize the site at Parchin since alleged work stopped there more than 10 years ago.
Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters