Washington, Sept. 10 — International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Secretary-General Yukiya Amano on Monday pushed Iran to allow the international watchdog’s inspectors to examine the Islamic republic’s Parchin military base, the site of possible nuclear tests.
The IAEA suspects nuclear simulation explosions have been tested at Parchin, which is a strong sign of weapons development. Amano voiced his concerns Monday at the start of a week-long, closed meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors in Vienna. The meeting focuses on Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program.
Iran remains adamant in its refusal to let IAEA officials into Parchin, which lies about 20 miles south of Tehran, and insists its work is for peaceful purposes. Satellite photos the IAEA released last week, however, show extensive and active clean- up efforts at the site.
"Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable us to ... conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities," Amano told the IAEA board.
Iran has produced enough low-enriched uranium to build five nuclear devices if that material were further enriched to weapons grade.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, meanwhile insisted that it has been cooperating with IAEA inspectors and that accusations of nuclear work at Parchin are “baseless.”
The international community has been in talks with Iran since January on curbing that country’s nuclear program; according to a recent analysis by the Institute for International Science and Security , Iran has increased its production of 20 percent enriched uranium, bringing it close to weapons-grade while the number of installed centrifuges at its underground Fordow enrichment plant has doubled.
Pressure has been mounting on the Islamic republic to curtail its nuclear program. On Friday, Canada suspended its ties with Iran and demanded the departure of all Iranian diplomats in Canada. The European Union, meanwhile, called for increased sanctions against Iran.
In the three months since the IAEA's last report, Iran has steadily added to its inventory of enriched uranium at all three of its declared centrifuge plants. Iran's total stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium, including from the underground fortified Fordow plant, is now nearly 200 kilograms, about 50 kilograms more than three months ago.
Iran's biggest enrichment plant, at Natanz, has now put out just under 7,000 kilograms of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent, compared to about 3,500 kilograms at the beginning of 2011 and 1,000 kilograms at the beginning of 2010.