UN inspector dies in Iran car crash

 

A UN nuclear inspector from South Korea was killed today and a colleague was injured in a car crash near a reactor site in central Iran, the nuclear watchdog agency said.

There were no immediate indications of foul play, but the crash is likely to undergo intense scrutiny.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement that another second inspector from Slovenia also was injured in the incident, and that the agency was in touch with the inspectors' families and the Iranian authorities.

The IAEA did not name the inspector killed in the crash, but Iran's official IRNA news agency identified the Korean as Seo Ok-Seok.

IRNA said the inspectors' car overturned around a heavy water reactor being built in Khondab, about 150 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of Tehran.

Iran says the reactor — part of the Arak complex — will be used to produce isotopes for peaceful medical and industrial uses. But the US and others fear that spent fuel from the reactors could be reprocessed into plutonium for a warhead. Iran denies it seeks nuclear weapons.

The incident comes ahead of a new round of technical discussions between Tehran and the IAEA to be held in Vienna beginning Sunday. Higher-level negotiations also are planned later this month in Baghdad between envoys from Iran and six world powers including the United States.

Inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog regularly visit Iran's nuclear facilities, which include a Russian-built energy reactor and uranium enrichment laboratories.

The stops often receive far less attention than the high-level IAEA teams sent to Iran to discuss access to other sites, such as the Parchin military base near Tehran where the UN suspects nuclear-related work has taken place. Iran says Parchin is a conventional military base.

Iran's nuclear agency issue a statement offering condolences to the nuclear watchdog as well as the victim's family

With some 26,000 casualties a year, Iran has one the highest per capital road deaths. It is blamed on disregard of traffic rules, lack of safety of the roads as well as inadequate emergency services.

AP

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