AFP
Last updated: 10 October, 2012

UN nuclear chief has no plans to visit Iran

The UN atomic agency said Wednesday there were no plans at present for director general Yukiya Amano to visit Tehran, following comments by Iran’s foreign minister suggesting that such a trip was on the cards.

“The IAEA has seen media reports that Director General Amano will visit Iran to discuss nuclear issues,” said Serge Gas, head of media at the International Atomic Energy Agency. “There are no such plans at this time.”

Earlier Wednesday, the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying that Tehran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, was “scheduled to have a meeting regarding the visit”.

Diplomats in Vienna also expressed serious doubt that such a visit would happen any time soon in light of a string of earlier failed meetings between Iran and senior IAEA officials this year, including during a visit by Amano to Tehran in May.

“I think (this comment by Salehi) is, at best, highly aspirational on Iran’s part,” one Western diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Efforts to arrange a meeting in mid-October, either in Vienna or Tehran, appear to have gone nowhere, envoys added.

As a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — unlike Israel, the Middle East’s only if undeclared state with the bomb — Iran’s nuclear facilities are under constant IAEA surveillance and are subject to frequent inspections.

But the IAEA also wants Iran to explain indications that until at least 2003, and possibly since, Tehran carried out “activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device”.

It wants access to specific documents and to scientists involved in Iran’s programme, as well as to sites, including the Parchin military base near Tehran, which it visited twice in 2005 but wants to look at again.

So far Iran has flatly rejected the claims, set out in a major IAEA report last November, saying they are based on forged documentation, and denied seeking — or ever having sought — to develop atomic weapons.