(Reuters) – Iran allowed a senior U.N. nuclear inspector rare access to a facility for developing advanced uranium enrichment machines during a tour of all of the country’s main atomic sites, an Iranian envoy said on Tuesday.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said last week’s visit to Iranian nuclear facilities by IAEA Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts showed Tehran’s “100 percent transparency and openness.”
Nackaerts, head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s safeguards department, spent five days in Iran on a visit that coincided with a new push by Russia to revive deadlocked diplomatic talks between Tehran and six major powers.
Western nations suspect Iran is trying to use its nuclear program to develop atomic weapons. The Islamic Republic has denied the charge, saying it wants to produce nuclear energy.
If Iran succeeds in building modernized centrifuge equipment on a large scale, it could significantly speed up production of enriched uranium, which can be used to fuel atomic power plants or provide material for bombs, if refined much further.
Tehran has enriched uranium so far primarily with an outmoded vintage of centrifuge based on a 1970s design.
Faced with growing Western pressure, Iran has in the past at times shown increased nuclear transparency to help ward off harsher international steps against the country, but without bowing to Western demands that it suspend enrichm… >>>