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U.N. Nuclear Team Visits Iranian Site, Gets Samples Taken By Iranians

Iran is hailing the International Atomic Energy Agency's visit to a controversial military base, saying it disproves "fictions" about the site's nuclear capabilities. But critics note that samples were taken by Iranian officials, without inspectors being present.

NPR's Peter Kenyon reports:

"The head of the IAEA and his top nuclear safeguards official visited the Parchin military base, long a target of suspicions involving possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program. Tehran insists its program has always been peaceful.

"The IAEA issued only a brief statement about the visit. Iran's state news agency quotes the atomic energy spokesmen as saying Iranians took environmental samples from the site without IAEA officials being present – a practice that has come in for criticism in the U.S. and elsewhere.

"Non-proliferation experts say Iran likely did do some weapons-related work in the past, and should clear up the issue as part of implementing the nuclear accord agreed in Vienna this summer."

In addition to visiting the Parchin military complex, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, met with President Hassan Rouhani and other officials in nearby Tehran to discuss how to handle inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities to comply with the agreement signed in July.

"Yesterday was an important day in the process of the settlement of Iran's nuclear issue and thanks God, the fictions made by ill-wishers against our country about Parchin military site were revealed," according to Hamid Baeidinejad of Iran's Foreign Ministry.

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