Iran invites foreign experts to nuclear sites
Iran said foreign experts can accompany the international envoys it has invited to inspect its nuclear facilities ahead of planned talks with world powers, the Foreign Ministry said today.world Updated: Jan 13, 2011 19:28 IST
Iran said foreign experts can accompany the international envoys it has invited to inspect its nuclear facilities ahead of planned talks with world powers, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast spokesman said the invitation by Iran to representatives of Russia, China, EU, developing and Arab countries to visit its nuclear facilities could be extended to the experts as well.
"There are no restrictions on bringing nuclear experts as companions," he said, in response to concerns by some country representatives that they didn't have sufficient expertise for the trip.
Mehmanparast said the invitation aimed at building trust ahead of talks Jan 21 with world powers in Istanbul over Iran's controversial nuclear program that many fear might be aimed at developing weapons. Iran denies the charge.
Iran's invitation pointedly did not include the United States, one of its biggest critics internationally, and many saw this as an attempt to divide the nations conducting the nuclear talks. Already a number of countries have indicated they may pass on the tour.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton already has said EU would not attend the tour and the inspection of nuclear sites should be done by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency. Then on Thursday China also said it is unlikely to take up Iran's offer.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Thursday that "as our representative to Vienna is now at home, it will be difficult for him to visit Iran."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, said that the invitation "deserves attention as any gesture showing some extra openness in relations with the international community," but maintained it could neither replace IAEA inspections or the upcoming Istanbul talks.