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Iranian Official Says Tehran Not Preventing IAEA Inspections


Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asgar Soltanieh, says Tehran is "not limiting IAEA access to its nuclear sites, according to Iranian government TV.

Iran's International Atomic Energy Agency envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, is denying a news report that Tehran is blocking the U.N. nuclear agency from "upgrading monitoring of its atomic activities."

The Iranian News Network reports that Soltanieh accused the Associated Press of "distorting the facts."

The AP, quoting diplomats in Vienna, reported Friday that Tehran "would have the means to test a (nuclear) weapon within six months," and that it is "resisting IAEA attempts to increase surveillance of its enrichment site (related to) its increased size and complexity."

Soltanieh told the Iranian News Agency that Tehran is "allowing normal inspections of its Natanz nuclear facility, without any obstacles."

Weeks of political unrest in Iran following a disputed June 12 presidential election are also apparently causing upheaval within Tehran's nuclear negotiating team. Veteran Iranian nuclear negotiator Gholam Reza Aghazadeh abruptly resigned last week, and President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad named Ali Akbar Salehi to replace him.

Salehi said Saturday "legal and technical discussions about Iran's nuclear case are finished," and the matter "should be closed."

University of Paris Political Science Professor Khattar Abou Diab says he thinks Iran is jockeying for position as the international community considers what to do.

He says he believes Iran expects problems with the international community, in the wake of its internal strife, are likely to resurface. He says the declaration by Soltanieh signifies Tehran implicitly recognizes there are problems between it and the IAEA over its secret nuclear and military program and over its hindrance of IAEA inspectors in accomplishing their work in Iran.

He says the statement gives the impression the nuclear issue is important both domestically and internationally, now that the countdown has started over its nuclear program.

Tehran has repeatedly refused to stop enriching uranium, which the West fears it will use to build atomic weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is intended for peaceful, civilian purposes.

But the outgoing head of the IAEA, Mohammed el-Baradei, has warned his agency cannot certify Iran is not carrying out secret nuclear activities in places inspectors cannot visit.

During the recent G-8 summit in Italy, U.S. President Barack Obama warned Tehran the world is giving it until September to comply with U.N. resolutions over its nuclear program.


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