Iran will open suspect military base if threats dropped: report

DUBAI Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:10am EST

A section of the Parchin military facility in Iran is pictured in this August 22, 2012 DigitalGlobe handout satellite image. REUTERS/Courtesy DigitalGlobe/Handout

A section of the Parchin military facility in Iran is pictured in this August 22, 2012 DigitalGlobe handout satellite image.

Credit: Reuters/Courtesy DigitalGlobe/Handout

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran would let U.N nuclear inspectors into a military base they suspect was used for atomic weapons-related work, if threats against the Islamic Republic 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 Labour News Agency as saying on Wednesday. The comments were also published on Thursday by online magazine Iran Diplomacy.

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.

(Reporting By Marcus George; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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