Report: Iran says it has the right to bar UN nuclear inspectors

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Iran says it has the right to bar UN inspectors

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s nuclear chief said Tehran has the right to bar some U.N. inspectors from monitoring its disputed nuclear program, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported.

Ali Akbar Salehi’s late Monday comments were apparently in response to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, expressing alarm about Iran’s decision to bar some of its inspectors.

The report followed Iran’s recent decision to strip two inspectors of the right to monitor its nuclear activities after they reported what they said were undeclared nuclear experiments.

ISNA also quoted Salehi as saying Iran asked the agency to replace the two and that it has accepted the replacements.

“This is our right as well as the right of other members of the agency to choose the inspectors,” Salehi said. “Basically, all member nations select from a list provided by the agency.”

The West, led by the United States, suspects that Iran’s nuclear program is geared toward making weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying the program is for peaceful purposes only.

Salehi, also the Islamic Republic’s vice president, urged the Vienna-based atomic agency to steer a fair and neutral course, arguing that the IAEA’s credibility depended on that.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast echoed Salehi’s comments on Tuesday.

“We have the right to replace inspectors regarding their background and activities,” he said.

In a related development, six Arab nations across the Persian Gulf from Iran issued a statement Tuesday calling on Iran to cooperate with the IAEA, saying they wanted Tehran to adhere to the principles of international law and help efforts to make the Middle East a region free of weapons of mass destruction.

The statement was issued by the Gulf Cooperation Council, a loose political and economic alliance that groups Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.

The statement’s reference to a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction appeared to reflect fears by the six nations over Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons.

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