Iran mulls letting diplomats visit suspected nuclear site

Iran implied Monday it might permit diplomats to inspect the Parchin military base during their visit to Tehran this week for the Non-Aligned Movement summit, Reuters reports. The Parchin base may have been used for nuclear-related explosive tests, according to U.N. nuclear experts.

The Iranian government-linked news agency Young Journalists Club reported that deputy foreign minister Mehdi Akhoundzadeh suggested that although a visit was not customary during such meetings, Iran would be ready for a visit, at the discretion of authorities. Iran reportedly made the offer three days after a meeting in Vienna, where the International Atomic Energy Agency again requested access to Parchin for its inspectors.

Iran is hosting the NAM summit at a time when the West is attempting to isolate the Islamic Republic over suspicions it's seeking nuclear weapons capability. Tehran claims their program has only peaceful goals.

The IAEA suspects Iran has conducted explosives tests in a steel chamber at Parchin, relevant for the development of nuclear weapons, possibly a decade ago. Talks between the IAEA and Iran ended Friday without agreement.

Citing satellite photos, Western diplomats say they believe Iran has been cleansing the site of any evidence of illicit nuclear activity where experiments may have occurred.

According to Reuters, the IAEA says this would impede its investigation if it ever gained access to the Parchin base.

Diplomatic sources said Iran had covered the building believed to house the explosives chamber last week with a tent-like structure. Iran says Parchin -- a huge, sprawling complex southeast of Tehran -- is a conventional military facility and allegations of nuclear testing are "ridiculous."

The YJC's Monday report did not make clear whether the NAM diplomats would be able to visit the part of Parchin which the IAEA wants to examine or only other areas of the base.

U.N. officials were not immediately available for comment.

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