TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A UN nuclear inspector from South Korea was killed Tuesday and a colleague was injured in a car crash near a reactor site in central Iran, news reports said.
There were no immediate indications of foul play. But the crash is likely to undergo intense scrutiny.
The official Islamic Republic News Agency said the International Atomic Energy Agency inspector died when the car overturned around a heavy water reactor being built in Khondab, about 150 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of Tehran.
Iran says the reactor — part of the Arak complex — will be used to produce isotopes for peaceful medical and industrial uses. But the U.S. and others fear that spent fuel from the reactors could be reprocessed into plutonium for a warhead. Iran denies it seeks nuclear weapons.
IRNA identified the fatally injured inspector as Seo Ok-Seok. The semiofficial news agency ISNA says another inspector from Slovakia was injured in the crash and taken to a hospital.
The Vienna-based IAEA had no immediate comment on the reports.
The incident comes ahead of a new round of technical discussions between Tehran and the IAEA to be held in Vienna beginning Sunday. Higher-level negotiations also are planned later this month in Baghdad between envoys from Iran and six world powers including the United States.
Inspectors from the U.N nuclear watchdog regularly visit Iran’s nuclear facilities, which include a Russian-built energy reactor and uranium enrichment laboratories.
The stops often receive far less attention than the high-level IAEA teams sent to Iran to discuss access to other sites, such as the Parchin military base near Tehran where the U.N. suspects nuclear-related work has taken place. Iran says Parchin is a conventional military base.
Iran’s nuclear agency issue a statement offering condolences to the nuclear watchdog as well as the victim’s family
With some 26,000 casualties a year, Iran has one the highest per capital road deaths. It is blamed on disregard of traffic rules, lack of safety of the roads as well as inadequate emergency services.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.