IAEA's Amano: 'Arrangements are technically sound, consistent with long-established practices'

IAEA says it’s satisfied with Parchin inspection agreement

UN nuclear watchdog’s statement follows revelation it ceded right to investigate military facility to Tehran

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, May 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, May 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

The UN’s nuclear watchdog said Thursday it was satisfied with arrangements it had made with Iran concerning inspection of military facilities, Reuters reported, a day after it was revealed that under a secret agreement signed with the UN agency, Tehran will be allowed to use its own experts to examine a site it allegedly used to develop nuclear arms.

The inspection of the Parchin military base by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is linked to a broader probe of allegations that Iran has worked on atomic weapons. That investigation is part of the overarching nuclear deal reached last month between Tehran and six world powers.

“The separate arrangements of the roadmap are consistent with the IAEA verification practice and they meet the IAEA requirements,” Serge Gas, a spokesman for the agency, said in a statement.

The IAEA spokesman added that the organization was required by law not to reveal the details of its agreements with Iran.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano issued a statement later Thursday saying he was disturbed that the AP report “suggested” that the IAEA has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran.

While noting the side deal is confidential, “I can state that the arrangements are technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. They do not compromise our safeguards standards in any way,” Amano said.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman of Iran’s nuclear agency was quoted on state TV calling the AP report “media speculation” without denying its substance.

The Parchin deal is a side agreement worked out directly between the IAEA and Iran, and is not linked directly to the multilateral nuclear deal signed on July 14. The United States and five other world powers that signed the nuclear agreement were not party to the Parchin deal but were briefed on it by the IAEA and endorsed it as part of the larger package. Without divulging its contents, the Obama administration had previously described the document as nothing more than a routine technical arrangement between Iran and the IAEA on the particulars of inspecting the site.

Satellite image of the Parchin facility in April (photo credit: Institute for Science and International Security/AP)
Satellite image of the Parchin facility, April 2012. (AP/Institute for Science and International Security)

The revelation by the Associated Press that the IAEA would cede investigative authority of a suspected nuclear site to Tehran was met with furious cynicism Wednesday by Israel and US Republican leaders, with a leading senator calling the agreement “remarkably naive and incredibly reckless.”

However, the White House said it was “confident” in the abilities of the IAEA to monitor and inspect the possible military dimensions on Iran’s past nuclear work and was “comfortable” with confidential arrangements between the IAEA and Tehran to ensure compliance with the nuclear deal signed on July 14.

“As the administration has said before — including in classified briefings for both chambers of Congress — we are confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former program, issues that in some cases date back more than a decade,” White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday.

Iran has refused access to Parchin for years. Based on US, Israeli and other intelligence and its own research, the IAEA suspects that the Islamic Republic may have experimented with high-explosive detonators for nuclear arms at that military facility. The IAEA has also repeatedly cited evidence, based on satellite images, of possible attempts to sanitize the site since the alleged work stopped more than a decade ago.

Israel has repeatedly slammed the nuclear deal concluded by the P5+1 powers and Iran, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu branding it a historic mistake that will both pave Iran’s path to the bomb and, by lifting sanctions, cement the Islamist regime in power and allow it to fund more terrorist activity and other dangerous regional interventions.

AP contributed to this report.

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