TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iran said on Tuesday it would let the U.N. nuclear watchdog take further environmental sampling of materials related to an academic centre, where Washington fears work to make atomic bombs was conducted.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said it has questions about Iran’s nuclear programme before it can declare that Tehran’s aims are peaceful. The West accuses Iran of trying to make atomic bombs, a charge Tehran denies.
In a report to the U.N. ecurity Council in April, the IAEA said it took samples from some equipment acquired by the academic centre at the Lavizan-Shian site, which was razed in 2004 before IAEA inspectors could examine it.
The former physics centre acquired some dual-use machinery useable for uranium enrichment, including vacuum pumps, which had tested positive for traces of highly enriched uranium (HEU) this year. In larger quantities, HEU can be used in bombs. “Iran has accepted the agency’s request for taking further samples from the centre,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said.
Iran has admitted that Lavizan-Shian, northeast of Tehran, was once a military research and development site but denied conducting any nuclear weapons research there or anywhere else in the country.
Tehran is not required to allow the IAEA into sites, where there is no clear sign of nuclear activities. But it says, by permitting such inspections, it wants to show Tehran’s nuclear plans are peaceful.
The Islamic state has been referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions after failing to heed a demand to halt uranium enrichment work, a process that can be used to make fuel for nuclear power plants or material for warheads.
Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, insists it only wants nuclear technology to generate electricity.