Iran nuclear programme scrutinized

Iran said on Tuesday the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, Muhammad al-Baradai, would visit the Islamic republic next week. Meanwhile, international pressure mounted on Tehran to allow wider inspections of its nuclear sites.

    Al-Baradai to visit Iran next week

    Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman, Khalil Mousavi, told Reuters that al-Baradai "is going to come to Iran next Wednesday, July 9".

    The announcement came a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it would accept Iran's invitation. 

    “Al-Baradai has received an invitation to visit Iran to discuss the implementation of nuclear safeguards (and) intends to respond positively,” said Mark Gwozdecky, IAEA spokesman.

    Al-Baradai said last month that Iran had failed to report to his agency on some of its nuclear activities.

    On Monday, the head of the Supreme National security Council, Hassan Rowhani, told visiting British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that Iran would invite al-Baradai for “talks to remove technical problems”.


    Rowhani said that technical problems should not be used as an excuse by the United States to make “hostile acts” against Iran.


    “Iran will soon invite al-Baradai to Iran for talks aimed at removing these technical problems,” he said.


    Al-Baradai urged Iran to sign an additional protocol to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) during a meeting of the IAEA member states in June.


    The additional protocol allows IAEA inspectors to make surprise visits to any nuclear site in the country, instead of pre-arranged visits.


    Al-Baradai’s reprimand came amid massive US pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions.


    The United States accuses Iran of using its civilian nuclear programme as a covert to develop nuclear weapons.


    Iran denies the charges, saying its programme aims at generating electricity for its growing population.


    No Japan deal


    Koizumi's government is under
    US pressure to suspend talks

    Washington has adopted a policy of increasing pressure on Iran by pressing countries to back out from deals with the Islamic republic.


    Japan has decided against signing a huge deal with Iran to develop an oil field before concerns over the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme are addressed, according to a government official.


    Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yasuo Fukuda, linked the international community’s calls for Iran to clear up suspicions over its nuclear ambitions to the deal that was expected to be signed by early July.


    The $2 billion deal requires a government-backed Japanese consortium to develop Iran’s southwestern Azadegan oil field.


    “Crude oil is very important for Japan, but on the other hand, the nuclear development issue has turned into a big international concern,” Fukuda said.


    Iran is Tokyo’s third largest oil supplier. 


    “I don’t think there will be a contract ignoring (such concerns),” he told a news conference.


    Fukuda said that Japan would make a final decision, depending on future developments.


    Fukuda’s statements came a day after a Japanese foreign ministry official said his government was continuing its talks with the Islamic republic over the deal.


    “The negotiations are still ongoing. We are also communicating with the United States over the matter,” said an oil official with the Japanese agency for natural resources and energy.


    Rafsanjani criticises US


    Meanwhile, influential former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, described the United States on Tuesday as a “dinosaur with a sparrow’s brian”.


    Rafsanjani also ridiculed what he said were Washington’s failures in Iran and Iraq.


    "The failure of the recent unrest in Iran was a disgrace for the

    United States," Rafsanjani said.


    He was referring to the 10-day wave of anti-clerical rule protests and unrest that officials had blamed on Washington.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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