Iranian foreign minister confirms ban on IAEA inspectors


dpa German Press Agency
Published: Monday January 22, 2007

Tehran- Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Monday confirmed earlier reports that 38 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors have been prohibited from visiting Iran. "In line with rules and regulations of the IAEA, the host country has the right to oppose the entry of certain inspectors into the country," Mottaki said in a press conference in Tehran.

The ISNA news agency had quoted the head of the Iranian parliament's foreign policy and security commission as saying Monday that Tehran had prohibited 38 IAEA inspectors from visiting Iran.

The decision was made in line with last month's bill that obliged the government to revise ties with the IAEA, Alaeddin Boroujerdi added.

"The IAEA has already been informed about the Iranian decision," Boroujerdi told ISNA, without providing further details.

Mottaki declined to give details of the nationality of the barred inspectors, but Iran generally has security concerns as far as visits of United States nationals are concerned.

Israelis are generally not allowed to come to Iran except in very rare cases.

IAEA officials in Vienna refused to comment on the ban, saying that they were still looking into the matter.

After the approval of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737 which foresees sanctions against Iran if the Islamic state does not suspend uranium enrichment by the end of February, the Iranian parliament approved a bill obliging the government to revise cooperation with the IAEA.

Both the foreign ministry and the National Security Council which is directly in charge of the nuclear issue have both stressed that cooperation with the IAEA and commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) would continue.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already ordered the government to implement the bill. On Sunday, he termed Resolution 1737 as "dead at birth" and reiterated that "even 10 more resolutions" would not stop Iran from pursuing its nuclear programmes.

The Iranian foreign minister said in the press conference that Iran would continue the process for completion of 3,000 centrifuges but refrained to disclose further technical details.

According to official announcements, two cascades with 164 centrifuges are currently operating in the Natanz plant in central Iran with observers considering it unlikely that the 3,000 centrifuges would be ready until the 28th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution next month or even until Iran's new year on March 21.

Mottaki said that Tehran had dispatched a letter to the 14 members the UN Security Council, not only reiterating Iran's stance in the nuclear dispute but also protesting against Resolution 1737 and the sanction threats.

"We sincerely hope the UN Security Council members will adopt a correct decision," Mottaki said.

While referring to ongoing military manoeuvres in south-east Iran, the foreign minister said the manoeuvres were only a routine measure for maintaining readiness of the armed forces.

There have been reports that Iran would test its short-range Zalzal and Fajr-5 missiles following dispatch of a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf. Whenever there are reports on a probable military attack, Tehran swiftly stages war games in order to expose its military strength.

President Ahmadinejad has constantly ruled out a military attack by the US terming the threats as "psychological war" against Iran with the aim of intimidating it into suspending its nuclear programme.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency