Diplomats Outline Parchin Sampling Arrangement

Diplomats Outline Parchin Sampling ArrangementDiplomats Outline Parchin Sampling Arrangement

United Nations inspectors will be present with Iranian technicians as they take samples from a key military site, Reuters quoted two unnamed western diplomats as saying.

The diplomats were familiar with details of the arrangement between Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog for inspections at the Parchin site, where some countries claim Iran may have conducted nuclear weapons-related tests.

Tehran denies the charge and says its nuclear work is entirely for peaceful purposes, but agreed to accept broader International Atomic Energy Agency's inspections as part of its historic deal with major powers in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions.

An August report by the AP said the agreement on Parchin suggested that IAEA inspectors would be barred from the site and would have to rely on information and environmental samples provided by Iranian technicians.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano rejected the report as "a misrepresentation", though he declined to provide details of what some US Republicans have described as a "secret side deal" between Iran and the UN nuclear agency on Parchin. Amano said on Aug. 20 that the arrangements with Iran were technically sound.

The signed agreement between Iran and the IAEA has not been disclosed publicly.

  Managed Access

But the western diplomats told Reuters that while Iranians would be allowed to take the samples themselves, the agency's inspectors would be physically present and would have full access to their activity.

"There was a compromise so… the IAEA could ensure it carried out its inspections according to their strict requirements," said one of the diplomats. Inspections at the Parchin site, which is about 30 km southeast of Tehran, would be carried out by mixed IAEA and Iranian teams coupled with cameras overlooking and recording the process, the other diplomat said.

"The IAEA will be present when the Iranians take the samples [at Parchin]. This approach to managed access is something that's fairly standard in the IAEA toolbox. Nothing to worry about really," the diplomat said.

"Unfortunately there have been distortions and inaccuracies in the media that made it look like Iran would simply inspect itself. That's not how it works," the diplomat added.

Neither the IAEA nor Iran's UN missions in New York or Vienna had an immediate response to queries about the Parchin inspection arrangement. Reza Najafi, Iran's envoy to the IAEA, said on Thursday Iran will not permit leaks of details about its arrangements with the IAEA.

With IAEA confirmation that Iran is keeping promises enshrined in the landmark July 14 nuclear accord, Tehran will be granted relief from sanctions.

Under a roadmap accord Iran reached with the IAEA alongside the nuclear agreement, the Islamic Republic is required to give the IAEA enough information about its past nuclear program to allow the Vienna-based watchdog to write a report on the issue by year-end.  

"The IAEA has no fears that its requirements will be met," said the first diplomat. "That's not the issue. The real issue is whether Iran satisfies our concerns by year-end. At the moment they seem to be complying."