IAEA Chief: Iran Continuing Nuclear Cleanup at Parchin

Yukiya Amano says activities to dismantle Parchin are ongoing, ahead of a visit by IAEA officials next month.

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog group Yukiya Amano said Sunday that apparent efforts by Iran to dismantle a suspected nuclear site are continuing ahead of a visit by agency officials next month.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has raised concerns about what appears to be months of work to scrub the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran of possible traces of nuclear weapons-related work. It believes Iran may have run experiments at the site on how to trigger a nuclear explosion.

Amano said during a visit to neighboring Iraq on Sunday that activities to dismantle Parchin are ongoing, though he declined to give details. Iran denies it is pursuing atomic weapons, a charge leveled by the West. It says its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes.

Iran and the UN nuclear agency are planning to hold a new round of talks in mid-December in Tehran over the Islamic state's disputed atomic program, diplomatic sources said this week.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) hopes to use the talks to reach an agreement that would allow it to resume a long-stalled investigation into possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program, a senior diplomatic source said.

In September, a U.S. envoy accused Iran of "systematically demolishing" a facility at the Parchin military site that UN nuclear inspectors wanted to visit as part of their investigation into suspected weapons research.

"Iran has been taking measures that appear consistent with an effort to remove evidence of its past activities at Parchin," U.S. envoy Robert Wood told the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

He said it was "troubling that Iran is blatantly hampering the [IAEA's] ability to carry out its mandate by systematically demolishing the facility that has been identified by the IAEA as meriting inspection at the Parchin site."