Iran invites foreign experts to nuclear sites

Iran has invited foreign experts to inspect nuclear sites ahead of planned talks with world powers.

Last Updated: Jan 13, 2011, 18:47 PM IST

Tehran: Iran said foreign experts can
accompany the international envoys it has invited to inspect
its nuclear facilities ahead of planned talks with world
powers, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast spokesman said
the invitation by Iran to representatives of Russia, China,
EU, developing and Arab countries to visit its nuclear
facilities could be extended to the experts as well.

"There are no restrictions on bringing nuclear experts
as companions," he said, in response to concerns by some
country representatives that they didn`t have sufficient
expertise for the trip.

Mehmanparast said the invitation aimed at building
trust ahead of talks Jan 21 with world powers in Istanbul over
Iran`s controversial nuclear program that many fear might be
aimed at developing weapons. Iran denies the charge.

Iran`s invitation pointedly did not include the United
States, one of its biggest critics internationally, and many
saw this as an attempt to divide the nations conducting the
nuclear talks. Already a number of countries have indicated
they may pass on the tour.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton already has
said EU would not attend the tour and the inspection of
nuclear sites should be done by the UN`s International Atomic
Energy Agency. Then today China also said it is unlikely to
take up Iran`s offer.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday that
"as our representative to Vienna is now at home, it will be
difficult for him to visit Iran."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile,
said that the invitation "deserves attention as any gesture
showing some extra openness in relations with the
international community," but maintained it could neither
replace IAEA inspections or the upcoming Istanbul talks.

PTI