Nuclear Chief Cites Progress in IAEA Probe

Nuclear Chief Cites Progress in IAEA ProbeNuclear Chief Cites Progress in IAEA Probe

There has been "good" progress in cooperation with the UN nuclear agency, which is probing Iran's nuclear past under a roadmap agreement the two sides signed on July 14, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said.

"Cooperation of the AEOI with the International Atomic Energy Agency is within the framework of national sovereignty and national interests," Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview with IRNA on Saturday.

"Good steps have been taken and we hope that Iran's case will have been closed by the year-end."

Alongside the roadmap, a larger nuclear deal was announced between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) which will see sanctions against Iran lifted in exchange for temporary limits on its nuclear program.

The roadmap is expected to ultimately result in an IAEA final assessment report on Tehran's past and present program by Dec. 15.  

Sanctions relief hinges on the UN agency's assessment.

Salehi said, "The AEOI has been acting based on the roadmap, which takes account of all red lines and considerations of the Islamic Republic and national interests."

There are, however, some matters that cannot be made public, he noted.

***Normal Construction Work

Elsewhere, a senior Foreign Ministry official and nuclear negotiator said construction activities at the Parchin military site are "normal" and will not complicate the agency's investigation into western allegations that Tehran may have conducted explosives tests at the site relevant to making a nuclear bomb.

Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear work is totally peaceful.  

The IAEA has said activities it has observed via satellite imagery at a location within Parchin, including the apparent construction of a small extension to a building as well as the presence of vehicles, could undermine its ability to verify what activity occurred there.  

"Parchin is a very large military complex containing numerous administrative, military and education buildings," Abbas Araqchi told ICANA, adding, "It is normal to do construction work at a site like Parchin."

"Certainly, activities at Parchin will not weaken the agency's ability to perform its role," Araqchi added.

Sampling was done last week at the suspected location where the explosives experiments were allegedly carried out.

Iranian media said samples were taken without agency's inspectors being present.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano pushed back on Thursday against critics questioning the wisdom of letting Iranian experts take samples, saying he is convinced the process was faultless, the AP reported.

"We are very sure that the integrity of the (sampling) process is assured."

Amano paid a courtesy visit to Parchin during his trip to Tehran days after sampling had taken place.

The IAEA chief said he and his deputy had "not seen any equipment" that could be linked to the alleged tests during their visit, but added, "Renovation activities were ongoing."

Sampling at Parchin is crucial to Amano's final report assessing Tehran's nuclear work.