- The Washington Times - Friday, May 15, 2015

Iranian top officials are vowing that the country’s military bases will not be opened to international inspectors under any deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear programs, throwing a major potential roadblock in President Obama’s hopes of concluding a breakthrough deal by next month’s deadline.

Ayatollah Mohammed Ali Movahedi-Kermani, a member of the Assembly of Experts, told a major gathering at Tehran University Friday that the Iranian government would never allow access to its military sites by United Nations inspectors as part of a final agreement with the United States and its five international partners.

Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Association, told the Associated Press this week that the nuclear accord being negotiated with Tehran would give his agents the right to demand access to the military sites, where Western experts believe at least some of Iran’s clandestine research on nuclear weapons is being done. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have repeatedly cited the intrusive inspection rules as a major achievement of the provisional framework agreement reached in April.

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“In many other countries from time to time we request access to military sites when we have the reason to, so why not Iran?” Mr. Amano said. “If we have a reason to request access, we will do so, and in principle Iran has to accept it.”

But Ayatollah Movahedi-Kermani, who also serves as the Tehran’s Friday prayers leader, told the college gathering that would never happen.

“The West, the United States and Amano are hallucinating,” he said.

The ayatollah also mocked a drive by some in Congress to require Iran recognize Israel as a condition of any nuclear deal.

“We tell Mr. Amano, the Westerners and the U.S. that they should bury their dreams of recognition of Israel and also inclusion of the condition to visit Iran’s military sites within the framework of the nuclear agreement,” he said.

With negotiators from Iran and the so-called “P5+1” — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — resuming intensive talks this week in Switzerland to nail down a final agreement, the question of inspections has emerged as a major sticking point. The U.S. and its allies contend the understandings in the provisional agreement open the door to IAEA inspections of Iran’s suspect nuclear sites, including those at military bases and labs.

Iranian officials have rejected that interpretation, and Reza Najafi, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, said there was nothing in the April agreement that allows inspection of military sites.

Mr. Najafi also contended that the lifting of international economic sanctions on Iran — a key Tehran goal in the talks — should not have to wait until the IAEA concludes its “time-consuming” process of certifying that there are no undeclared nuclear sites or research in the country. He told the Iranian FARS news agency this week that opening up Iran’s military sites would not be part of any final accord.

“We have not so far permitted inspection of the military centers,” he said, and we [will] not do so in the future,” he said.

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