CNN | By Frederik Pleitgen and Brian Walker
The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog has carried out its first-ever inspection of Iran’s Parchin military site — with Iranian help, the agency announced Monday.
The examination of Parchin is part of an inquiry by the International Atomic Energy Agency into Iran’s past nuclear activity. It is separate from inspections of other sites agreed to under July’s deal between Iran and six world powers, which are more focused on ongoing work.
Iranians were involved in collecting some of the samples from the sensitive military site, IAEA director general of Yukiya Amano said.
Earlier, a top Iranian official said that IAEA inspectors had not taken part in the sampling procedure at Parchin.
Iranian technicians took the samples and handed them to the IAEA, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behruz Kamalvandi was quoted in Iranian state media as saying.
But in a statement, the IAEA director general appeared to clarify what had happened.
“As a result of experience gained over the years, the agency has, in certain circumstances, permitted states’ representatives to carry out activities in support of the agency’s verification work. This is done in a way that ensures that the agency’s verification processes are not compromised,” Amano said.
“In the case of Parchin, the Iranian side played a part in the sample-taking process by swiping samples,” he said. “Authentication by the agency of the samples was achieved through use of an established verification process.”
Amano said that the IAEA had monitored the process and that the samples had been taken to Vienna, Austria, where IAEA experts would analyze them.
Iran’s potential involvement in the Parchin inspection was foreshadowed by the Obama administration in August.
A senior U.S. State Department official said that the IAEA would have “total oversight” of sampling and inspections of Parchin under an agreement between the agency and Iran over access to the site.
The official said Iran was “not self-inspecting” but would not deny that Iranian inspectors will “play a role” at the site.