The International Atomic Energy Agency quickly denied a news report Friday claiming that Iran had prevented agency officials from conducting a surprise inspection of the nation's uranium enrichment centrifuges, Reuters reported (see GSN, May 11).
The report had described Iranian officials denying access to the site at Natanz when inspectors attempted to conduct their first-ever unannounced visit.
"There is no truth to media reports claiming that the IAEA was not able to get access to Natanz," said agency spokesman Marc Vidricaire.
"We have not been denied access at any time, including in the past few weeks. Normally we do not comment on such reports but this time we felt we had to clarify the matter," he added.
"If we had a problem like that we would have to report to the (35-nation IAEA governing) board. ... That has not happened because this alleged event did not take place" (Mark Heinrich, Reuters/Australian Broadcasting Corp., May 12).
In the meantime, two agency inspectors arrived Saturday in Iran to visit Natanz and the Iranian uranium conversion plant at Isfahan, Iran's semiofficial Fars news agency reported.
The inspectors are scheduled to remain in-country for a week, according to the agency (Fars news agency, May 13).