UN inspectors in Iran to discuss nuclear issue
TEHRAN: Reports that Iran worked secretly with plutonium, a possible component of nuclear weapons, are expected to figure prominently in talks between Iranian officials and two inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who arrived here on Monday.
Meanwhile, the US said that Iranian elections had not changed its stance that it would be “unacceptable” for Tehran to obtain a nuclear weapon or the ability to make one.
The visit by the two representatives of the UN nuclear agency is billed as routine, but it is the first since Friday’s presidential elections, which were won by hard-line candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has vowed to continue Iran’s nuclear development.
Aides to Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh told AP that the two inspectors went immediately into meetings with Iranian nuclear officials. Aghazadeh heads Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation.
The officials said the talks would include the dispute caused by a recent IAEA report on Iran’s conducting experiments with plutonium.
The report, released earlier this month, said Iran had acknowledged working with small amounts of plutonium longer than it originally had disclosed. The report also said Iran had received technology that could be used for a weapons programme earlier than it had previously acknowledged.
IAEA Deputy Director-General Pierre Goldschmidt said while Iran had said its plutonium separation finished in 1993, Iranian officials had revealed two months ago that there had been related experiments in 1995 and 1998.
Iran criticised the report, accusing Goldschmidt of playing up information Tehran itself had provided. Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani said last week that Iran conducted plutonium experiments of microgram scale at laboratory level and for scientific research. The IAEA criticised Tehran for not revealing its later plutonium work.
Plutonium can be used in nuclear weapons, but it also has uses in peaceful programme s to generate power — which is what Iran says is the sole purpose of its nuclear activities.
During their visit, the IAEA inspectors will see some nuclear facilities, the officials in Aghazadeh’s office said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. AP
President Bush told German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in a meeting that Iranian elections had not changed his view that it would be “unacceptable” for Tehran to obtain a nuclear weapon or the ability to make one.
“The development of a nuclear weapon is unacceptable, and a process which would enable Iran to develop a nuclear weapon is unacceptable,” Bush said. The president said his administration would continue to support Britain, France and Germany in their diplomatic push to ensure that Tehran did not get atomic weapons. Asked whether Iran’s election had been free and fair, Bush replied: “It’s never free and fair when a group of people, unelected people, gets to decide who’s on the ballot.”
The White House said that the US supported European diplomacy to ensure Tehran did not develop nuclear weapons but is “sceptical” that it will succeed. “We continue to support the efforts of the European three,” Britain, France and Germany, spokesman Scott McClellan said. ap/afp