Iran has virtually denied access to a high-powered visiting delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to its Parchin military complex, saying that it would open up the facility for inspections once a deal on its “nuclear rights” is achieved.

Addressing the media ahead of the IAEA delegation’s visit that commenced on Wednesday, Ramin Mehmanparast, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman said that Iran would be ready to remove the alleged concerns about the Parchin military site, if the global powers recognised its right to use peaceful nuclear technology. The IAEA suspects that Parchin facility may have been used for high explosives testing that can be used to trigger a nuclear explosion, based on satellite imagery of the base.

Iran continues to flatly deny that Parchin has been used for any nuclear related activity. "Parchin is a military zone and continues its activities and is not related to nuclear activities," said Mr. Mehmanparast on Tuesday. He also stressed the IAEA had been allowed to visit Parchin on two earlier occasions. Nevertheless, Iran was ready to remove the agency’s concerns about the site, provided Iran’s “nuclear rights” were fully recognised.

Iran has been insisting that as a signatory to the Nucler Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it has a right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, including uranium enrichment. On the contrary, the West, led by the United States has been insisting that Iran should halt all enrichment activity, and “come clean” by demonstrating that its past and present nuclear activities have not been related to the development of atomic weapons.

The United States’ National Intelligence Estimates -- widely recognised as an authoritative source of information because of its multiple sourcing -- has concluded that that there is no evidence to suggest that Iran has been pursuing a nuclear weapons programme since 2003. Before emplaning for Tehran, Herman Nackaerts, the head of the IAEA delegation said that the aim of his visit was “to finalise the structured approach to resolving the outstanding issues on the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme". He added: "We hope that we will be allowed to go to Parchin and if access is granted we will welcome the chance to do so." "We are ready to go."

Analysts point out that the Iranians seem to have made up their mind that issues of access to military facilities, such as Parchin, would not precede but follow a political deal based on dialogue with the six global powers, which comprise the five Security Council members and Germany. It is necessary “to recognise the fact the IAEA’s mandate is technical in nature, while the Iranian nuclear dossier is a political issue” wrote Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former nuclear negotiator from Iran, on the Al Monitor website.

He pointed out that Iran’s interlocutors have so far offered only a “peanuts for diamonds” political deal that cannot lead to a nuclear breakthrough. During talks in Baghdad in May last year, Iran rejected the offer of the global powers, which required Tehran to stop 20 per cent uranium enrichment, shut down its Fordo nuclear enrichment plant near Qom, and ship out its atomic stockpile, in return for spare parts for its passenger planes.

Observers say that the success of the next round of talks between Iran and the global powers, which are expected later this month, on how far the six countries go in revising the package that was offered in Baghdad.

In an effort to allay fears about its nuclear intentions, the Iranians have stressed that they are ideologically committed against the development of atomic weapons. During his briefing, Mr. Mehmanparast, the spokesman, pointed to the religious edict from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that banned development of nuclear weapons. "There is nothing more important in refining the framework for our nuclear activities than the leader's fatwa," said Mr. Mehmanparast.

"This fatwa is our operational instruction," he observed.

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