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IAEA Seeks Parchin Access, Tehran Says No

IAEA Deputy Director-General Herman Nackaerts (right) speaks to journalists before visiting Iran last month.
The head of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delegation says he hopes to win access to Iran's Parchin military complex during talks in Tehran this week.

The visit is part of an investigation into Iran's nuclear research, which the West suspects is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Tehran says its nuclear development program is for civilian purposes only.

Herman Nackaerts, the deputy head of the IAEA nuclear watchdog, said on January 15 in Vienna that his visit aimed to finalize a framework deal with Iran on resuming the agency's inquiry.

"We are aiming to finalize the structured approach to resolving the outstanding issues on the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program," Nackaerts said.

Nackaerts also said his team would once again push for a visit to Parchin, a military site near Tehran where the IAEA suspects key nuclear weapons parts were tested.

"We hope that we will be allowed to go to Parchin. And if access is granted, we will welcome the chance to do so, and as you will have seen we are ready to go," he said.

New Nuclear Talks

The two sides are also expected to discuss possible Iranian access to Western intelligence documents that form the basis of the IAEA's suspicions.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the media that Tehran also hoped to reach a "comprehensive agreement" with the IAEA during talks on January 16.

But Mehmanparast ruled out access to Parchin, saying the site had "no connection with Iran's nuclear activities."

He also said that Tehran and six world powers-- the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany -- had agreed on a date but not the venue for the next round of talks on Iran's nuclear program.

Those talks are in parallel to the IAEA's efforts to resolve the dispute with Iran amid concern it could trigger a new war in the Middle East. Israel has not ruled out a military strike on Iran's nuclear sites.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa
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