TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's military is denying claims by the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog that it demolished buildings at a base in a suspected attempt to cover up nuclear testing, the state media reported Monday.
The report by YJC.ir news website quoted Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi as saying allegations that Iran was trying to erase evidence at the Parchin military base are "irrelevant and unwise." Iranian officials have issued similar denials over the past few weeks but this is the first by the defense minister, under whose authority the base falls.
"The allegations are aimed at affecting nuclear talks in Moscow," Gen. Vahidi was quoted as saying, referring to an upcoming round of negotiations between Iran and six world powers in the Russian capital over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
The West suspects Iran is trying to develop weapons technology. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
The International Atomic Energy Agency showed to member nations of its board last month satellite images indicating a cleanup of the site, saying the photos depicted water streaming out of one building, the razing of several other buildings and removal of earth at the facility.
The activities at the Parchin military base southeast of Tehran are a recent IAEA concern. Iran says Parchin is a conventional military base.
Earlier on Sunday, Ali Asghar Soltanieh Iran's envoy to the IAEA told state Arabic-Language TV , Al-Alam, that Iran will not block access of the IAEA inspectors to Parchin, "if both Iran and the agency reach an agreement on the modality" of a visit.
He said soon both sides will agree on a new round of the talks on the issue. So far, talks have led to little progress in resolving the dispute.