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Iran invites world powers to tour nuclear sites

Iran invites the EU and several other powers to tour the country’s contentious nuclear sites, buts snubs its greatest critic – the United States.

Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh
Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh
Image: Hans Punz/AP/Press Association Images

IRAN HAS INVITED Russia, China, the EU, and its allies in the Arab and developing world to tour its nuclear sites ahead of a meeting on its disputed nuclear programme, scheduled for the end of January.

An Iranian official told Time magazine that facilities to be visited include the nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz and the Arak site, where Tehran is building a plutonium-producing heavy water reactor.

In a letter made available to the Associated Press on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the invitation went to “the E.U, the non-aligned movement and representatives from 5+1 countries.”

The so-called “5+1″ countries are the five permanent UN Security Council members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — plus Germany, which are in negotiation with Iran over its nuclear programme.

Mehmanparast said the invitation was a sign of Iran’s “good will” and greater transparency about its nuclear program. He did not give a fixed date for the proposed tour but the Press Association cited a letter from a senior Iranian envoy – which suggested the tour would take place over the weekend of 15 January.

It is understood that the United States, the fiercest critic of Iran’s nuclear programme, did not receive an invitation.

However Iran has sent an invitation to Hungary, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency. China also confirmed that it has received the letter, saying that it will “respond in due course after consulting with [its] international partners”, according to Monsters and Critics.

A meeting between Iran and the 5+1 is due to take place in Istanbul in late January.

The last round of talks between the powers were held in Geneva over December 6 to 7.

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