Published — Friday 28 December 2012
Last update 28 December 2012 1:06 am
DUBAI: Iran would let UN nuclear inspectors into a military base they suspect was used for atomic weapons-related work, if threats against the country are dropped, a government official was quoted as saying.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) believes Iran conducted explosives tests with possible nuclear applications at Parchin, a sprawling military base southeast of Tehran, and has repeatedly asked to inspect it.
Western diplomats say Iran has carried out extensive work at Parchin over the past year to cleanse it of any evidence of illicit activities but IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said earlier this month a visit would still be “useful”.
“If the trans-regional threats (against Iran) dissipate, then they will find it possible to visit Parchin,” Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi was quoted by the Iranian Labor News Agency as saying on Wednesday. Qashqavi was most likely referring to Israel's threat of military strikes against Iran and the possibility of further sanctions by the West.
Israel has said it will resort to military action if diplomacy fails to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear work is entirely peaceful.
Earlier this month, IAEA officials visited Iran to try to negotiate access to Parchin to resolve outstanding issues related to “possible military dimensions” of Iran's nuclear program.
Iran has repeatedly said that a wider agreement on the IAEA's inquiry must be reached before opening the site to inspectors.
Separately, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sacked Health Minister Marizeh Vahid Dastjerdi, the sole woman in his Cabinet, state television reported yesterday.
The minister had proposed price hikes for a number of medicines due to the plunge of the Iranian rial against the US dollar and Western sanctions imposed on the country.
But Ahmadinejad was opposed to the price rises and dismissed the minister.
Although the sanctions do not directly target medicines, they limit their importation because of restrictions on financial transactions.