Iran bans 2 UN nuclear inspectors from entering

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 - 23:40

Tehran: Tehran said on Tuesday it had banned two
UN nuclear inspectors from entering the country because they
had leaked "false" information about Iran`s disputed nuclear
programme.

The ban is the latest twist in Iran`s deepening tussle
with the UN`s International Atomic Energy Agency and the West
over its nuclear programme. The United States and its allies
warn that Iran`s programme is geared toward making nuclear
weapons.

Tehran denies the charge saying its nuclear activities
are only for peaceful purposes like power generation.

The IAEA report in question stated that in January Iran
announced it had conducted certain experiments to purify
uranium, which could theoretically be used to produce a
nuclear warhead. Iran then denied the experiments had taken
place a few months later.

When the inspectors in May visited the Jaber Ibn Hayan
Multipurpose Research Laboratory in Tehran, where the alleged
high temperature pyroprocessing experiments were conducted,
they said the equipment involved had been removed.
The Associated Press reported the IAEA`s concerns in May,
citing unnamed diplomats.

Iran, however, maintained in June there were no
experiments related to pyroprocessing and no equipment was
removed and has called the IAEA report "false with the purpose
of influencing public opinion".

The head of Iran`s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar
Salehi said on state TV that the IAEA had been informed of the
decision to ban the inspectors, whom he did not identify.

``We announced names of two inspectors to the agency last
week.

Those two now have no right to enter Iran anymore,`` he said.
``What they reported was untrue and they revealed it before it was
officially reviewed.``

Salehi also said Iran would remain loyal to its
international commitments to the agency and the IAEA inspectors would still
be able to inspect Iran`s nuclear facilities.

The IAEA confirmed it received a letter from Iran on June
10 objecting to the inspectors and it stood by the accuracy of
its report.

``The IAEA has full confidence in the professionalism and
impartiality of the inspectors concerned. The agency confirms
that its report on the implementation of safeguards in Iran, issued
on May 31, 2010, is fully accurate,`` press officer Greg Webb
said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman called the
Iranian move ``worrisome.`` He said it was ``symptomatic of its long
standing practice of intimidating inspectors`` and would heighten world
concerns about Iran`s nuclear program.

Since 2006, after Iran`s nuclear dossier was reported to
the U.N. Security Council, Iran limited its cooperation to only its
obligations under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
The U.N. Security Council slapped a fourth set of
sanctions on Iran earlier this month over its nuclear program. The move
followed Iran`s refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process which can
be used for the production of fuel for power plants as well as
material for warheads if enriched to a higher level.

In Vienna, meanwhile, Brazil`s foreign minister indicated
that his country`s active support of Iran in its dispute with the
West over its nuclear program was being scaled back after the U.N.
Security Council`s decision earlier this month for new
sanctions.

``We will help whenever we can, but of course there is a
limit to where we can go,`` Celso Amorim told reporters on the
sidelines of an official visit to Austria.

``If there is renewed interest then we will be able to
assist again, if not then we can only wish best of luck`` to Iran and
its interlocutors in solving their nuclear dispute, he said.

Brazil and Turkey last month brokered an Iranian nuclear
fuel-swap deal in hopes that they would at least delay new
U.N. sanctions, but the new penalties were imposed nonetheless.

Under the deal _ based on elements of an earlier draft _
Iran agreed to ship 1,200 kilograms (2,640 pounds) of low-enriched
uranium to Turkey, where it would be stored. In exchange, Iran
would get fuel rods made from 20-percent enriched uranium; that
level of enrichment is high enough for use in research reactors but too
low for nuclear weapons.

Among concerns by opponents of the deal is that Iran has
continued to churn out low-enriched material and plans to
continue running a pilot program of enriching to higher levels, near 20
percent _ a level from which it would be easier to move on to
creating weapons-grade uranium.

The U.S. and its allies argue that the sanctions are in
response to Iran`s refusal to freeze all enrichment activities and not
in response to Tehran`s fuel swap offer.

PTI




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