* U.N. nuclear chief Amano calls for immediate Parchin
* Says lack of progress in Iran talks "frustrating"
* West seeks to step up pressure on Iran at IAEA board
* Iran says nuclear allegations "baseless"
By Fredrik Dahl
VIENNA, Sept 10 The head of the U.N. nuclear
watchdog pressed Iran on Monday to grant his inspectors
immediate access to the Parchin military site, where they
believe Tehran may have conducted explosives tests relevant to
the development of nuclear weapons.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic
Energy Agency, also said it was "frustrating" that the IAEA and
Iran had made no real progress in talks that began in January
aimed at allaying concern about suspected atom bomb research.
Western powers may seize on his statement to a closed-door
session of the IAEA's 35-nation governing board to strengthen
their case for further international pressure on Iran, one of
the world's largest oil producers.
Saying Tehran must address the substance of the U.N.
agency's questions, Amano later told a news conference he was
committed to intensifying the dialogue with the Islamic state
but that no date had been set yet for a new meeting.
"We need to stop going around in circles discussing process
... Iran has the obligation to fully cooperate with us."
Asked about Iran's demand for access to documents which form
the basis for the IAEA's suspicions about possible military
dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme, Amano said he was ready
to provide them "when appropriate".
He made his comments one day after Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel and the United States were
in discussions on setting a "red line" for Iran's nuclear
programme, which Tehran says is peaceful.
Israel, believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the
Middle East, sees the possibility of Iran developing an atomic
bomb as a threat to its existence and has said it may use
military means if diplomacy and sanctions fail.
European Union heavyweights Britain, France and Germany
called last week for new sanctions and Canada has unexpectedly
severed ties with Iran.
IRAN SAYS PARCHIN ALLEGATION "BASELESS"
Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said Tehran
would "continue" to cooperate with the U.N. agency but that its
national security must be taken into consideration.
He told reporters that discussions were under way this week
about the possibility of having another meeting with the IAEA.
Iran says its nuclear programme is aimed at producing
electricity, not making nuclear bombs.
At the week-long IAEA board meeting, the United States and
its Western allies want to isolate Iran further by adopting a
resolution rebuking it for stonewalling the IAEA's investigation
into its nuclear activities.
But it is unclear whether China and Russia - who are also
part of a group of six world powers trying to find a diplomatic
solution to the long-running nuclear dispute - would agree to
such a move, diplomats say. Beijing and Moscow have criticised
unilateral Western steps to punish Iran.
Russia last week starkly warned Israel and the United States
against attacking Iran and said it saw no evidence that Tehran's
nuclear programme was aimed at developing weapons.
In contrast, the IAEA has voiced mounting concern that Iran
has been conducting research and development relevant to the
assembly of a nuclear warhead.
Amano said "activities" that had taken place at the Parchin
facility - a reference to suspected clean-up work there - would
have an "adverse impact" on the IAEA's investigation, if and
when it was allowed to go there. Iran has so far refused access.
Western diplomats cite satellite images as evidence that
Iran has for several months carried out apparent "sanitisation"
work at Parchin to remove any evidence of illicit activity.
Despite this, Amano said his inspectors had "powerful tools"
at their disposal to discover any traces or other evidence.
Iran told the agency in a letter last month that the
allegation of nuclear-linked work at Parchin, located southeast
of the capital Tehran, was "baseless", Amano said.
"However, the activities observed further strengthen our
assessment that it is necessary to have access to the location
at Parchin without further delay in order to obtain the required
clarifications," he said.