TEHRAN: Iran said Tuesday it has invited envoys of some of the six world powers and European Union nations to visit its nuclear facilities ahead of talks in Istanbul over its atomic programme.
The invitation to ambassadors of these countries represented in the UN atomic watchdog comes as Tehran attempts to garner support for its controversial atomic drive ahead of the Istanbul talks later this month.
“The representatives of some European Union countries, NAM (Non-Aligned Movement), and some representatives of the five-plus-one (six world powers) have been invited to visit our nuclear sites,” foreign ministry spokesman, Mr Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters.
He said the invitation was part of the Islamic republic’s attempt to demonstrate “cooperation with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). The “visit to our nuclear sites once more shows the goodwill of our country and the peaceful and cooperative nature of our (nuclear) activities,” Mr Mehmanparast said.
The visit to the nuclear facilities, he said, “will take place before the Istanbul meeting.” Iran and the six powers – Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany – are to meet later this month in Istanbul for another round of talks on Tehran’s atomic programme. The previous round of talks, which took place after a hiatus of 14 months, was held in Geneva on December 6 and 7. The talks are aimed at ascertaining whether Iran is seeking nuclear weapons or is indeed looking only to meet the energy needs of its growing population, as it claims.
Mr Mehmanparast did not specify whether arch-foe the United States, one of the six world powers negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme, is among those invited. Asked specifically whether the United States representative would be invited, Mr Mehmanparast replied that the “list of the countries invited for the visit will be unveiled when it is finalised.”
Washington has been spearheading a campaign of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, which world powers suspect is masking a drive for atomic weapons. It has also not ruled out a military strike against Iran to stop the nuclear programme which has grown under the presidency of hardliner Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran has been slapped with four sets of UN sanctions since Mr Ahmadinejad pushed ahead with the nuclear programme.