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UN Nuclear Watchdog Says Can Visit Iranian Military Sites, But Won't Right Now

Yukiya Amano, the director-general of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency

The UN's nuclear watchdog agency has rejected Iran's claim that it cannot visit military sites to determine whether Tehran is complying with the 2015 nuclear accord, but it has no reason to seek such access at this time, media reports said on August 31.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency, which is charged with monitoring Iran's compliance with the 2015 deal's curbs on nuclear activities, told the Associated Press in an interview that his agency can access military sites if it suspects Iran is hiding prohibited activities there.

His agency "has access to [all] locations without making distinctions between military and civilian locations" under provisions of the agreement, he told AP.

But unidentified agency officials told Reuters that while the agency has the authority to check Iranian military sites, it has no plans to seek access at this time because it has no reason to suspect Iran is carrying out any banned activities there.

The nuclear watchdog on August 31 certified in a quarterly report seen by news agencies that Iran is complying with the agreement, which granted Iran international sanctions relief in exchange for the curbs on its nuclear activities.

A dispute broke out in the past week between Iran and the United States over whether the agency is allowed to access Tehran's military sites to detemine whether Iran is complying with the deal.

The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, asserted on August 25 that the agency has authority to check military sites, and she urged it to do so to see whether Iran is hiding prohibited nuclear activities.

But Iranian leaders this week said Iran will never allow the agency to access its military sites, and the U.S. demand to inspect them is only a "dream" that will never be realized.

"The Americans will take their dream of visiting our military and sensitive sites to their graves.... It will never happen," said Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Haley responded to the Iranian rhetoric on August 31, saying "if inspections of Iranian military sites are 'merely a dream,' as Iran says, then Iranian compliance with the [nuclear deal] is also a dream."

Officials at the UN agency told Reuters that despite the U.S. demand that it inspect military sites, the United States has presented no new evidence of possible violations of the nuclear accord that could justify such a move.

The German news agency dpa quoted UN diplomats as saying that while the agency reserves the right to visit military sites in the future if suspicions arise, without evidence of violations it must take great care to avoid the appearance of doing the bidding of some countries' spy agencies.

With reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters
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