Iran has said it will allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect a military site near Tehran if threats of Israeli attacks on the country's nuclear facilities are defused, an Iranian news agency reported Thursday.
Iran and the IAEA – the United Nations' nuclear watchdog - plan to continue negotiations in mid-January on inspecting the Parchin military site, where, according to Western intelligence reports, nuclear weapons parts have been tested.
Inspections at the site are considered one of the main steps toward reaching a breakthrough in the 10-year dispute over Iran's contentious nuclear program.
A U.S. think tank published satellite imagery earlier this month which it said shows ongoing construction at Iran's Parchin military complex, a site linked to suspected nuclear activity. The publication came just ahead of the arrival of a UN nuclear inspector's team in Tehran on Thursday.
The Institute for Science and International Security said that an image taken on December 9 shows "a steady pace of what appears to be the 'reconstruction' phase" of a site that had undergone considerable alterations between April and July 2012, including demolition of buildings and movement of earth.
Tehran has so far denied the IAEA access to the site, saying it is not legally obliged to expose a non-nuclear site to the international inspectors.
"If external threats were defused, then they - the IAEA - could be enabled to inspect Parchin," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Ghashghavi was quoted as saying by the ILNA news agency on Thursday.
Ghashghavi's remarks were also carried by the website Iran Diplomacy under the title "Iran's condition for inspecting Parchin".
Iran denies accusations by Israel, the United States and many Western governments that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, saying its ambitious nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes.
Israeli experts have said Iran could have enriched enough uranium to produce just one bomb by the spring or summer of 2013. The last few years have seen a battle of threats between Israel and the Islamic Republic, with increasing global concern that Israel might attack Iran over the contentious nuclear program.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded that U.S. President Barack Obama set a clear "red line" that Iran's nuclear program must not cross to avoid American military intervention.
In an effort to deter Tehran, Western powers have imposed increasingly tough economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The United States and other world powers have been trying to gauge whether a negotiated solution is possible with Iran. The Obama administration has maintained that military options should only be a last resort and has pressed Israel to hold off on any plans for a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
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