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Inspectors gain access to important Iranian nuclear facility

In a confidential International Atomic Energy Agency report, the IAEA says Iran has been 'resistant' to inspections
President Hassan Rouhani with Yukiya Amano Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (AFP)

UN inspectors have gained a “better understanding” of Iran’s nuclear capabilities after gaining rare access to an obscure nuclear facility, according to media reports.

"Iran's engagement with the agency, including the provision of information, and the agency's ongoing analysis are helping the agency to gain a better understanding of Iran's nuclear program," the IAEA's latest quarterly report on Iran said.

UN inspectors reportedly visited a plant which develops centrifuges for enriching uranium on 30 August as part of a transparency deal but pointed out that that Iran resisted an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigation, according to a confidential IAEA report obtained by Reuters.

The confidential report indicates that Iran had been failing to cooperate over the investigation into nuclear arms research by the country.

The plant visited in August was a research and development (R&D) centre for centrifuges and could be crucial in getting a more in-depth comprehension of Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

"It is of importance to see the R&D to understand the full scope and status of the program," former IAEA chief inspector Olli Heinonen, now at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, told Reuters by e-mail last week.

In addition to an R&D centrifuge plant in Natanz to which inspectors have had regular access, Iran's Kalaye Electric in Tehran, which the IAEA has rarely visited, would appear to be a location of interest to inspectors.

The IAEA report indicated that Iran had missed a 25 August deadline to address “suspicions about activities in the past that could be relevant for any attempt to assemble nuclear bombs.”

The US and Israel insist that Iran is covertly attempting to develop nuclear weapons.  

Iran has long denied such allegations, insisting that its program is peaceful and aims at generating electricity and producing medical isotopes.  

The rising threat of the Islamic State (IS), and the election of “moderate” Hassan Rouhani in the country, has led to seemingly improved relations between Iran and the US, with some even suggesting a potential alliance against IS in Iraq and Syria. 

However, US officials have denied that the two countries are working together to battle the militant group, and on Sunday, Iran's foreign minister accused the US of failing to take the scale of IS's threat seriously.

Foreign minister Mohamed Javad Zarif also said the US had previously supported the militant group, alluding to the US support to Syrian rebels.

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