VIENNA -- UN nuclear inspectors are negotiating with Iran for access to as many as four military sites that have programs or equipment that could be diverted to development of nuclear weapons, diplomats at the International Atomic Energy Agency said yesterday.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the diplomats said the negotiations were sensitive because visits could compromise the secrecy of Iran's conventional military programs. The talks have been underway since June.
The request for expanded inspections comes as the Islamic republic says its patience with the IAEA is running out and it wants an end to intrusive visits. Still, the diplomats said they were confident of striking a deal for access, noting that the Iranians earlier agreed to let inspectors into other military facilities.
Mark Gwozdecky, IAEA spokesman, said in a statement that the agency had been ''discussing with the Iranian authorities open-source information relating to dual-use equipment and materials which have applications in both the military and in the civilian spheres."
Hoseyn Moussavian, Iran's deputy negotiator, said there had been no formal request from the IAEA to visit the facility that is the focus of the agency's interest, the Parchin plant, a munitions factory and high-explosives test site 20 miles southeast of Tehran.
''They have not asked to see the site, but we are ready to cooperate with the IAEA," he said.