Iran Welcomes IAEA Inspectors: 'Free to Inspect All Nuclear Sites'
January 31, 2012
AntiWar.com & Deutsche Presse-Agentur
The International Atomic Energy Agency has begun an intensive three-day inspection visit under growing threats of an Israeli attack against Iran's civilian nuclear sites. The visit was welcomed by top Iranian officials. Iran's nuclear chief said that the inspection would finally end allegations that the program was anything but a legal, civilian program. Iran has promised that IAEA inspectors would be given free and full access to any nuclear sites they requested.
IAEA Inspectors Begin Three Day Visit
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(January 29, 2012) -- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has dispatched a team of inspectors to Iran this weekend, and they began an intensive three-day inspection visit today under growing threats of an Israeli attack against Iran's civilian nuclear sites.
The visit was being loudly welcomed by top Iranian officials, with their nuclear chief saying that the inspection would finally end international allegations that the program was anything but a legal, civilian program. Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi added that the IAEA inspectors would be given free and full access to any nuclear sites they requested.
The inspection team includes weapons experts, with the expectation that they will grill Iran over the alleged military ambitions of their program. Previous inspections have failed to uncover any solid evidence that there is any military program at all, which has only fueled further accusations from Western nations that Iran is hiding them. The IAEA's current chief Amano Yukiya, has mostly gone along with these allegations, issuing a report warning that they couldn't prove Iran didn't secretly have a weapons program.
This time, however, the fear that Israel might start a massive regional war over the accusations is likely going to color any official IAEA statements coming out of the visit. Unfortunately any statement could theoretically be used as an excuse for a war, as Israel's current government could spin any allegation as the "last straw" or present a lack of accusations as proof that the international community will never attack Iran and that they must do so unilaterally.
Salehi: IAEA Allowed to Inspect all Aites; No Hormuz Blockade
Jan 29, 2012) -- Tehran -- Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could inspect all nuclear sites during their visit to Iran, said Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi on Sunday in Ethiopia, where he is attending an annual African Union summit.
Salehi also said that Iran would not close the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, which is a vital route for global oil transfer. 'The IAEA officials will be allowed to inspect any nuclear site they request from us,' the official IRNA news agency quoted Salehi as saying in a press conference in Addis Ababa.
He also played down threats by Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi and several generals of the Revolutionary Guards to close down the Strait of Hormuz if oil sanctions were imposed on Iran. The ban was finalized by the European Union last week.
'The Strait of Hormuz is an important route not only for us and the regional states but also for the whole world and we therefore consider ourselves fully responsible for the security of the Strait so that it will benefit all countries,' Salehi said.
IAEA officials started talks Sunday with Iranian officials over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme. Both sides have so far kept silent on the exact agenda of the talks, but the IAEA team, led by chief inspector Herman Nackaerts, is expected to meet with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saedi Jalili, and atomic chief Fereydoun Abbasi.
Salehi said that as world powers and the IAEA refrained from providing Iran with the 20-per-cent enriched uranium necessary for Tehran's medical reactor, Iran would within one month provide the reactor with its own home-made fuel. Iran had succeeded in making both the 20-per-cent enrichment as well as the fuel rods for the Tehran reactor, he said.
No information has yet been released on the first day of the IAEA visit. Upon arrival early Sunday, the six inspectors were transferred to the city through one of the rear exits of Tehran airport, avoiding contact with local and foreign reporters. It is also unclear whether the IAEA team would inspect nuclear sites or only discuss with Iranian officials the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme. Iran has for the past 15 years constantly rejected charges by the West that it is developing a covert nuclear weapons programme.
Earlier Sunday, Salehi told the ISNA news agency, 'We have coordinated everything in advance, including inspection of nuclear sites, and are generally very optimistic about the outcome of the IAEA mission.' He said his optimism was based on the fact that Iran's nuclear programme was transparent and the country 'had nothing to hide.' Salehi said that Jalili would soon write a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to fix a date and venue for the next round of nuclear talks.
Iran wants the resumption of the talks with the 3+3 group -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. But Ashton and world powers want a clear agenda prior to the talks, and Iran's agreement to a temporary suspension of its uranium-enrichment programme, until there is certainty that Tehran is not working on a secret weapons programme.
Observers believe that the holding of the next nuclear negotiations depend on the report by the IAEA team. One of the sites that might be inspected by the IAEA team is the new Fordo uranium enrichment facility, 160 kilometres south of the capital Tehran, which will become operational next month and is capable of enrichment at 20 percent.
Nuclear experts, however, believe that inspections of nuclear sites will neither help the UN agency nor Iran as all the sites are under the IAEA auspices and equipped with cameras, which are also to be installed in Fordo.
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