A dramatic visit by UN inspectors to Iran amid rising international tension failed to get answers about whether Iran seeks the bomb.Iran continues to play games, knowing that appearing to cooperate will take some of the pressure off from powers like Russia.
Iran tried to draw maximum publicity through a show of cooperation with inspectors from the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency who visited Tehran this week. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran was "prepared to make arrangements for inspection" of nuclear sites but that the IAEA team had not asked to go.
But IAEA chief inspector Herman Nackaerts and the agency number two Rafael Gross, who headed the inspectors, did not want to visit nuclear sites, which are already monitored by the IAEA. They wanted to see Parchin, a weapons testing ground, and also to see crucial documents and scientists who work there or are connected to such work, diplomats said. The IAEA had published in November an extensive report about alleged atomic weapons research by Iran, and Parchin was a key link in this. The IAEA has also been seeking for years to interview the man believed to head Iran's alleged covert military nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, and once again did not get to him.
The Iranians refused access to Parchin, saying it was not a site where there is nuclear material and so the IAEA which verifies use of such material had no business there. This, however, goes to the crux of what the IAEA is now trying to do, which is to verify possible nuclear weapons research that may have been carried out without nuclear material. This can include learning how to make the trigger which sets of atomic bombs or the neutron initiator which speeds up the explosive chain reaction. The IAEA needs to investigate such matters, grouped under the heading "possible military dimensions" of Iran's nuclear work, before it can say whether the Iranian program is a peaceful or military one.
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