Tehran protests die down

Protests in Tehran died down on Tuesday just as international pressure continued to mount on Iran to give more UN access to its nuclear facilities.

    Police have reined in militias

    While protesters did drive their cars around Tehran University overnight for the seventh consecutive night, their numbers were fewer and so were the slogans.

     

    Tension subsided and uniformed police reined in pro-government militias that had attacked protesters with clubs and chains the previous nights.

     

    Police encircled the university and set up checkpoints to prevent militiamen from getting close to the campus.

     

    Tehran University is located in the centre of the city and was the focal point for the protests that erupted last week.

     

    While calm returned to the Iranian capital, there have been reports of unrest in at least seven other provincial cities.

     

    Iran blames the United States for inciting students to stage demonstrations. On Monday it sent an official protest to Washington through the Swiss embassy.

     

    Straw is cautious

     

    Unlike the US, Britain adopted a more cautious line on the protests with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw saying Iran had to sort out its opposition internally.

     

    “The thing that would most derail the process towards the establishment of a better democracy in Iran would be suggestions that the opposition there was being orchestrated from the outside”, he said.

     

    Straw, who had visited Iran three times in the last two years, added that the protests were, “happily so far”, not incited from abroad.

     

    However, he reiterated Monday’s EU foreign ministers’ position that Iran should allow wider inspections of its nuclear facilities.

     

    “What we have said to the Iranians is, ‘Look, if it is correct that you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear by the kind of enhanced inspections which now the whole world wishes you to undertake”.

     

    In the meantime, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)  met for a second day,on Tuesday after its director-general, Mohammed al-Baradei, urged Iran to allow tougher inspections.

     

    An IAEA spokesman said the agency might discuss other items on the agenda, leaving the Iranian issue for Wednesday.

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