Friday, 7 January 2011
EU rejects Iran's offer of nuclear tour
EU's Foreign Policy Chief, Baroness Ashton, has said that the agency has rejected Iran's offer to tour its nuclear facilities, as it is the responsibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Speaking about the EU's decision Lady Ashton said it was regrettable, but remained hopeful about the talks with Tehran due to take place later this month.
"What I'll be saying is the role of the inspections of nuclear sites is for the IAEA and I do hope Iran will ensure that the IAEA is able to go and continue and fulfill its work," said Lady Ashton.
Iran said it was willing to give a tour of its nuclear grounds to a number of key world powers including representatives from China and Russia, but not the US. Lady Ashton said she had consulted with both Russia and China before deciding to decline the invitation. The tour, should the invitation have been accepted, would have taken place ahead of the second round of talks about Iran's nuclear programme scheduled to take place in Istanbul later in January.
"I obviously coordinated with the other members of the E3+3 (six powers) who were invited. My view is that though this is not an invitation that I'm taking a negative view of, it's not our job, and looking at the sites and establishing what they are requires expertise," Lady Ashton said, referring to IAEA inspectors.
The UN and the US suspects Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran insists that its nuclear programme is designed for civilian purposes only. Some have spoken out against Iran's invitation accusing the Islamic republic of trying to dupe the West in to a false sense of security while aiming to split the six world powers and wane the sanctions against Tehran.
In trying to counteract these accusations Iran's interim Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that the offer was meant as a "goodwill gesture".
"We have invited the ambassadors of the European Union and Non-Aligned Movement (developing countries) entities ... to visit Iran's nuclear facilities so that the lies propagated by some non-benevolent countries regarding Iran's nuclear activities are shown," said Salehi.
The second round of nuclear talks between Tehran, and the permanent UN Security Council members - the U.S. Russia, China, Britain, France - plus Germany, is due to take place in late January, but the date is yet to be confirmed.
Sources: BBC News, Reuters, RadioFreeEurope, The Voice of Russia
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