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Iran Says It's Ready To Allow U.N. Nuclear Inspectors To Military Site

Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency is reporting that the country is ready to allow United Nations nuclear inspectors into a military complex, where the West suspects Iran is undertaking secret nuclear work.

Inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency complained in unusually tough terms last month that their mission to Iran had failed because they had been denied entry into the military site at Parchin.

In a statement Iran's representative to the IAEA said the U.N. would be given access once the "modalities of cooperation" were settled.

Reuters addsthat Western diplomats are rejecting the latest news, saying it just represents an effort by Iran to buy time.

But the announcement comes just before the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council announced they had accepted an offer to return to the negotiating table with Iran. The United States and its allies are demanding that Iran cease any efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.

The AP reportedthat the group's point of contact, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, responded positively to Tehran's overtures.

The AP adds:

"Ashton's says in a statement the EU hopes that Iran 'will now enter into a sustained process of constructive dialogue which will deliver real progress in resolving the international community's long-standing concerns on its nuclear program.'"

"The time and venue of the talks have not yet been determined."

Of course all of this news comes with the backdrop of a U.S. visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. President Obama met with Netanyahu yesterday and said that while the United States "will always have Israel's back," diplomacy is the best way forward with Iran.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.