Iran urged to open up over nuclear weapons

WORLD powers including Britain and the United States have urged Iran to answer questions about suspicions it is working on nuclear weapons, but stressed diplomacy was the way forward, in a carefully-worded statement.

The statement yesterday from six countries, which also included Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, urged Iran to open its Parchin military site to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) perusal, amid reports that Tehran might be cleaning it of evidence of nuclear arms- related experiments.

They stressed diplomacy was the key to resolving tensions over Iran’s nuclear program. But a European Union statement was stronger, noting “regret” of Iran’s lack of response to international concern.

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The IAEA has already identified Parchin as the location of suspected nuclear weapons- related testing. In a November report, it said it appeared to be the site of experiments with conventional high explosives meant to initiate a nuclear chain reaction.

Iran vehemently denies allegations that it conducted any research and development into atomic weapons and says the totality of its nuclear activities are meant purely to generate power or for research.

IAEA expert teams trying to investigate possible secret weapons work by Iran tried, and failed, twice in recent weeks to get Iranian permission to visit Parchin.

Tehran said on Monday that such a visit would be granted. It added an agreement outlining conditions of such an inspection must first be agreed on – a move dismissed by a senior international official as a delaying tactic.

The EU statement conveyed strong criticism of Iran’s defiance of international demands that it lower tension levels by compromising on its nuclear activities.

“We deeply regret” Iran’s lack of efforts to dispel international suspicions, said the statement.