West blasts Iran for trying to intimidate IAEA

Western countries accused Iran of trying to intimidate the UN atomic watchdog in a dispute over Tehran’s decision to bar nuclear inspectors from the country.

By (AFP)

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Published: Wed 15 Sep 2010, 11:07 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:34 AM

And the United States suggested the 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should consider taking “appropriate action” against Iran over the matter.

The Islamic republic’s decision in June to revoke the permits of two experienced IAEA inspectors after they allegedly made “false” reports to the agency about Iran’s nuclear programme has dominated the board meeting being held this week in the watchdog’s Vienna headquarters.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano complained the move was “hampering” the agency’s long-running investigation, now entering its eighth year, into Tehran’s contested nuclear drive.

Addressing the closed-door assembly on behalf of Britain, France and Germany, French ambassador Florence Mangin said: “The Iranian authorities are clearly trying to intimidate the agency so as to influence its ability to report to the board and undermine its ability to effectively implement the safeguards regime in its territory.”

Washington’s envoy Glyn Davies agreed.

It was “unprecedented for a state to reject inspectors because they report accurately ... what they see and what they hear,” Davies said.

“To that end, the United States fully supports the IAEA’s denunciation of Iran’s treatment of certain inspectors, which we consider a clear effort to intimidate inspectors and thereby influence the conclusions of inspectors in Iran.”

The US ambassador suggested the board “should consider ‘appropriate action’” against Iran because the de-designation of inspectors was “synonymous” with a paragraph in the safeguards agreement that outlawed any attempts by a state to “impede” the IAEA’s work.

So far, IAEA chief Amano has carefully avoided using the word “impeding”, saying only that Tehran’s decision to bar experienced inspectors was “hampering” the agency’s work.

Iranian ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh nevertheless rejected any such suggestion.

“They’re trying to make an issue out of this,” Soltanieh told reporters.

It was Iran’s right, under the terms of its safeguards agreement with IAEA, to vet inspectors, he insisted.

Furthermore member states were not obliged to provide a reason for such a decision.

It was “ridculous” for the agency to complain about the decision to bar just two inspectors when there was a pool of “over 150 inspectors” to draw from, Soltanieh said.

He denied that the decision to bar the inspectors was in any way a retaliatory move.

“Iran has accepted over 150 inspectors as designated inspectors and usually around 10 of them do inspections in Iran. Therefore, the secretariat could easily use any of the others in the long list,” Soltanieh argued.

French ambassador Mangin described Amano’s latest Iran report — circulated to board members last week — as “alarming”.

It found that the Islamic republic was pressing ahead with its uranium enrichment despite four rounds of UN sanctions, and refusing to answer questions about possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme.

“Iran’s refusal to fully cooperate with the IAEA and its deliberate attempts to prevent it from carrying out its mandate in Iranian territory are ... troubling and reprehensible,” Mangin said.

“The only conclusion we can draw is that Iran remains determined to pursue a nuclear programme which could provide it with military capabilities,” she said, urging Iran to address seriously the concerns of the international community about its nuclear activities.

US ambassador Davies said: “The lengthening list of Iran’s violations of its obligations under its safeguards agreements and UN Security Council resolutions, together with Iran’s overall refusal to address international concerns ... undermines Iran’s frequent claim that there is nothing left to be worried about with Iran’s nuclear programme.”

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