Iran: Ban on UN inspectors is 'notice' to IAEA
Iran’s barring of two nuclear inspectors serves as “notice” to the chief of the United Nations atomic body to manage the agency professionally, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Tuesday.
“This action [banning the inspectors from entering Iran] is in reality a regulatory notice to [Yukiya] Amano to be careful so that the agency’s inspectors do not violate the international entity’s charter,” state news agency IRNA quoted Mottaki as saying during a television interview late on Monday.
“Amano should manage the agency professionally,” he said, referring to the chief of the UN atomic body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Iran’s atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi announced on Monday that two IAEA inspectors had been barred from entering the country “because they leaked information before it was to be officially announced and they also filed a false report” about Tehran’s nuclear programme.
‘Report totally wrong’
He said Iran had told the IAEA board of governors at its last meeting that the report filed by the two inspectors was “totally wrong ... and that these two inspectors must not come back to Iran and should be replaced by two others.”
Iran’s arch-foe the United States voiced concern at Tehran’s decision to block the inspectors’ entry.
“It is worrisome that Iran has taken this step, which is symptomatic of its longstanding practice of intimidating inspectors,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in Washington.
“Reducing cooperation with the IAEA will only deepen the world’s concern with respect to its nuclear programme.”
Western powers led by Washington suspect that Tehran’s nuclear programme masks a weapons drive, a charge denied by the Islamic republic.
On June 9 the UN Security Council imposed a fourth set of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium, the most controversial part of its atomic programme as the material can be used to make a nuclear weapon.
Pressure building on Iran
Top US lawmakers announced on Monday they had reached a deal on a series of unilateral punitive measures aimed at piling pressure on Tehran.
The legislation targets firms that provide Iran with refined petroleum products—like gasoline or jet fuel. Oil-rich Iran relies heavily on imports of petroleum products because of a lack of domestic refining capability.
It could also see non-US banks doing business with certain blacklisted Iranian entities—including Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards and several banks—shut out of the US financial system, according to a summary.
Soon after the UN sanctions, the European Union also announced unilateral sanctions against Iran.
But French President Nicolas Sarkozy, despite backing the UN sanctions, offered to hold talks with Iran which Mottaki said was a “positive approach” taken by Paris.
“We believe there are serious signs that France is willing to conduct an independent action,” Mottaki said.
“Such a will exists among some French officials. We see this approach as positive. If there are more serious signs of such a will then Europe can enter a new phase of playing a greater role” in resolving Iran’s nuclear issue, he said.
Sarkozy told his Russian counterpart at a meeting in Saint Petersburg on Saturday that France was ready “without delay” to hold talks with Iran in Vienna over a nuclear fuel swap deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey.
A French presidential official quoted Sarkozy as saying that these talks could also discuss the response given by UN Security Council powers France, Russia and the United States in the form of sanctions against Iran.
The West led by Washington and the European Union have maintained that they are adopting a “dual-track” policy in dealing with Iran—imposing sanctions and also offering to hold dialogue.—AFP