Iran denies agreement on inspection of military sites
TEHRAN - An Iranian negotiator on Sunday denied accepting military site inspections as part of a nuclear deal with world powers, a delicate issue in the discussions that must be concluded by the summer.
Abbas Araghchi, who is also deputy foreign minister, reportedly made the remarks as he briefed a parliamentary committee on the progress of the talks with the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany.
"In his report, Mr. Araghchi said that inspections of military sites have been accepted but the inspections are regulated and will be seriously managed," ultra-conservative lawmaker Javad Karimi-Ghodoussi was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.
The remarks appeared to contradict those of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said this week that inspections of military sites and interviews of scientists by foreign experts were excluded from a nuclear agreement.
Araghchi later denied the lawmaker's comments on his Instagram page.
"What can we do except put the fate of Karimi-Ghodoussi and Fars in the hands of God?" he wrote alongside a picture of a Fars headline that read: "We accepted the inspection of military sites".
A parliamentary spokesman said that during the briefing, Araghchi had "explained that the inspections will take place in the framework of the (Nuclear Non-proliferation) Additional Protocol".
"It will not be like the Americans can inspect any place at any time," said Behrouz Nemati, quoted by the official IRNA news agency, adding "these inspections will be regulated".
The United States says Iran has agreed in principle to enhanced inspections of its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), particularly under the Additional Protocol that allows snap inspections.
But Tehran denies any foreign access to its military facilities, in order to protect national "military or economic secrets".
"The exact details of the inspection regime are still being worked out," said US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.
She expressed hopes for "a solution that will give us and the IAEA the assurances we need with regard to access (to the sites) and transparency" of the Iranian nuclear programme.
The long-running nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 are aimed at preventing the Islamic republic from getting the bomb, in exchange for the easing of international economic sanctions.
The parties have until June 30 to finalise the deal.