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Iran Signals Military Sites Off-Limits To UN Inspectors

5 December 2004 -- The Iranian Foreign Ministry claimed today that the country is not obliged to allow UN nuclear inspectors to visit military sites allegedly involved in covert nuclear-weapon work.

The statement comes just days after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved a contentious resolution on 29 November endorsing the country's freeze of uranium-enrichment activities that could lead to reactor fuel for making nuclear weapons.

Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in the Iranian capital today that while Tehran respects it commitments to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is not obliged to let IAEA inspectors probe suspected atomic research and development sites at Iranian military bases.

Asefi said Iran is open to discussions on the issue.

Under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which Iran is a signatory, UN nuclear investigators have only limited rights to inspect nuclear facilities.

The United States accuses Iran if secretly trying to develop atomic weapons, a charge that Iran has consistently denied.

The IAEA wants to inspect Iranian military sites suspected of conducting secret nuclear research -- one at Parchin and another at Lavizan, both near Tehran.

AP quoted a "well-placed Bush administration official" yesterday suggesting that the recent interception of technology shipments destined for Iran has strengthened U.S. suspicions that Iran is quietly developing an intercontinental ballistic missile. It cites an intelligence report to the U.S. Congress that claims China, parts of the former Soviet Union, and North Korea were supplying Iran with ballistic-missile technology and equipment as recently as 2003.