A spokesman for Iran’s atomic agency announced Monday that Iranian scientists collected environmental samples from a military site without international inspectors present, a move sure to evoke anger from opponents of the Iran nuclear deal who charge it with having lax inspection provisions.
Iran's Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told state media that the samples were collected from the Parchin complex, a military facility where some suspect that nuclear work has taken place.
Kamalvandi’s announcement came just one day after a visit to the site by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano.
“Iranian experts took environmental samples from specific locations at Parchin complex without the presence of the agency’s inspectors,” Kamalvandi told Iran’s IRNA news agency.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, welcomes U.N. nuclear chief Yukiya Amano at the start of their meeting in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. Iran's state TV reported that Amano arrived in Tehran to "clarify past and current issues" of the country's nuclear program. Iran and the world powers have agreed to a landmark deal that curbs Iran's nuclear program in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday that the Iranian self-verification activities at Parchin were “conducted in a manner consistent with our standard safeguards practices.”
“The agency can confirm the integrity of the sampling process and the authenticity of the samples, which were taken at places of interest to the Agency at the particular location in Parchin,” Amano said.
At the same time, however, the IAEA head said that on his visit Sunday to Parchin, he saw that there had been recent renovations and no equipment at the site that had previously been off-limits to international inspectors.
He noted that the “extensive work” there interferes with the nuclear watchdog’s ability to adequately inspect the site.
“As I have stated in my reports to the board, the extensive work that has been conducted at the location since early 2012 undermines the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification there,” Amano said.
The Iranian atomic spokesman said that the samples had been collected within the past week and then handed to IAEA experts.
Iran's PressTV described Amano's visit to Parchin as a "formality," not an inspection.
A draft side deal between Iran and the IAEA that the Associated Press revealed last month referenced a future visit by Amano to Parchin, not as part of an investigation but rather as a “courtesy” extended by Iran.
The AP noted that the environmental sampling would normally be carried out by IAEA personnel, not a self-inspection by Iranian officials.
Under the side agreement which is separate from the wider Iran deal agreed upon between the U.S., Iran and five world powers, Iran would be allowed to use its own experts to examine Parchin.
Iran denies that any secret nuclear activity is underway at the military facility.