Vol. 5 Num 514 Mon. November 07, 2005  

Iran allows UN inspectors to visit military complex
Tehran issues fresh challenge

Iran confirmed yesterday it had allowed UN nuclear inspectors to visit a military complex as part of its efforts to counter US accusations that it is secretly developing nuclear arms.

The United States believes Iran may have experimented with high explosives appropriate for atomic weapons at Parchin, 30 km (19 miles) southeast of Tehran.

Iran says it has no interest in such arms, only in civilian nuclear technology to generate electricity.

"We opened the doors of Parchin again to the inspectors. The site had been visited in the past," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news conference.

Asefi denied Iran was conducting any nuclear weapons research there or anywhere else in Iran.

"Our nuclear activities are only for peaceful purposes. Our activities are based on the International Atomic Energy Agency's regulations," he said.

The IAEA's board of governors passed a tough resolution in September which brought Tehran to the brink of referral to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

"Since the resolution was passed, we said that Iran was ready to implement some parts of it," Asefi said.

As well as urging Iran to give better access and cooperation to UN inspectors, the IAEA's September resolution also called on Tehran to halt uranium processing work which it resumed at its Isfahan facility in August.

But Iran has refused to mothball the Isfahan plant and last week informed the IAEA of plans to start processing a fresh batch of uranium at the plant.

Analysts said Iran's improved cooperation with the UN inspectors, noted by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei last week, was designed to undermine US and EU efforts to send its case to the Security Council at an IAEA board meeting later this month.

"They are doing everything to avoid referral to the council. Iran is not strong enough to withstand sanctions," said Hamid Pirzadeh, a political science professor at Tehran University.

Meanwhile, Iran yesterday again defied the international community over its nuclear programme, announcing it would soon embark on fresh nuclear fuel work and was seeking investors for uranium enrichment activities.

Officials said Tehran would be converting a fresh batch of uranium ore -- the precursor step before enrichment -- in a flagrant rejection of calls from Europe and the United States for Tehran to halt all such activities.