(MENAFN - Arab News) Possible clean-up activities at an Iranian military base where the UN atomic agency wants to probe evidence of suspected nuclear weapons research are "ongoing," the watchdog's head said yesterday.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano nevertheless expressed guarded optimism on a visit to Baghdad about talks with Iran next month, ahead of the expected release on Friday of the IAEA's latest report on the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear activities.
Western powers believe the nuclear program is at least in part aimed at developing atomic weapons, but Tehran insists it is for peaceful purposes.
"Yes, the activities at Parchin are ongoing, but I am not in a position to discuss the details today," Amano told reporters after being asked whether Iran was continuing its clean-up of the sprawling military site near Tehran. The IAEA wants Iran to grant access to Parchin, which it visited twice in 2005 but wants to examine again.
Since the summer, some buildings at the base have been covered in massive tarpaulins to prevent surveillance by Western satellites.
Amano also said he believed there was "good reason" that Iran would cooperate with the IAEA over nuclear program. "I am very much convinced that ... the IAEA has an essential role to play in solving this issue, Iran nuclear issue, through diplomatic means," he said at a joint news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
"It is in the interests of Iran, and for the international community, and that is why I believe that there is some good reason that Iran will get cooperative for us. At the same time, the situation is very difficult and worrying. I do not want to speculate."