‘Iran ready for IAEA visit as soon as possible’

Tehran`s envoy to the UN atomic agency has said he would meet the watchdog`s chief nuclear inspector in Vienna in the first week of January.

Vienna: Tehran`s envoy to the UN atomic
agency has said he would meet the watchdog`s chief nuclear
inspector in Vienna in the first week of January to arrange a
visit to Iran as soon as possible.

"As soon as the holidays are over we will sit down with
Mr (Herman) Nackaerts and arrange the visit," Ali Asghar
Soltanieh, Tehran`s envoy to the Vienna-based International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told news agency on Thursday.

"As far as we are concerned his team can come as soon as
they are ready," Soltanieh said, adding that the meeting would
happen in the first week of January and that the visit could
take place later the same month.

He said Iran had renewed an earlier invitation despite
its "disappointment" that inspectors had not visited ahead of
a November IAEA report on Iran`s suspected covert nuclear
weapons activities.

"Once again we have decided to show political will and
our good intentions to cooperate with the IAEA in order to
demonstrate transparency about the exclusively peaceful nature
of our activities," the envoy said.

He added that he wanted the visit by inspectors to ensure
that "past mistakes are not repeated... and to end this
endless process once and for all."

News earlier this week of Iran`s renewed invitation to
inspectors was greeted with scepticism by Western diplomats to
the IAEA, who expressed doubts that Iran would help clear up
issues in the November 8 report.

"To us it seems in keeping with Iran trying to mollify
the IAEA without really offering anything substantive," one
told news agency on condition of anonymity.

The United States earlier welcomed the fact that the IAEA
had been invited back, but State Department spokeswoman
Victoria Nuland added: "We want to make sure that this visit
is complete."

She said inspectors should "get to all the sites they
want to get to so that they can interview anybody that they want
to see and that they get to all the records that they need
to see, because this is the standard that we want to see Iran

The November report, the IAEA`s hardest-hitting to date,
expressed "serious concerns" that the Islamic republic "has
carried out activities relevant to the development of a
nuclear explosive device".

Iran, already subject to four rounds of UN Security
Council sanctions and which says its nuclear programme is
peaceful, rejected the report as "baseless."

Ten days later the IAEA board passed a resolution
submitted by all five UN Security Council permanent members
condemning Iran but stopping short of reporting it to New York
or setting a deadline for Tehran to comply.

The United States, the European Union and other allies
imposed tighter sanctions after the report and are expected to
unveil more soon, targeting the country`s vital oil sector and
central bank.


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