Ma­jor world pow­ers stress­ing di­plo­macy in Iran stand­off

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY GE­ORGE JAHN

VI­ENNA | Six world pow­ers on Thurs­day urged Iran to an­swer ques­tions about sus­pi­cions it is work­ing on nu­clear weapons but stressed that di­plo­macy is the way for­ward, in a care­fully worded state­ment that re­flected Western sen­si­tiv­ity to Rus­sian and Chi­nese con­cerns about be­ing too harsh on Tehran.

The six urged Iran to open its Parchin mil­i­tary site to In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency pe­rusal, amid re­ports that Tehran might be clean­ing it of ev­i­dence of nu­clear arms-re­lated ex­per­i­ments — a re­quest echoed by other speak­ers at the 35-na­tion IAEA board meet­ing.

While also stress­ing that di­plo­macy is the key to re­solv­ing ten­sions over Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram, a Euro­pean Union state­ment was stronger than that from the six pow­ers, not­ing “re­gret” of Iran’s lack of re­sponse to in­ter­na­tional con­cern.

Con­cerns about Parchin are high. Diplo­mats who spoke to the As­so­ci­ated Press on Wed­nes­day based their as­sess­ment on satel­lite images of the Ira­nian mil­i­tary fa­cil­ity they said ap­peared to show trucks and earth-mov­ing ve­hi­cles, in­di­cat­ing an at­tempted cleanup of ra­dioac­tive traces.

Two of six diplo­mats said their in­for­ma­tion re­veals that Iran had ex­per­i­mented with a test ver­sion of a neu­tron trig­ger at the site used to set off a nu­clear blast — in­for­ma­tion not pre­vi­ously made public.

The IAEA al­ready has iden­ti­fied Parchin as the lo­ca­tion of sus­pected nu­clear weapons-re­lated test­ing. In a Novem­ber re­port, it said it ap­peared to be the site of ex­per­i­ments with con­ven­tional high ex­plo­sives meant to ini­ti­ate a nu­clear chain re­ac­tion.

Iran ve­he­mently de­nies al­le­ga­tions that it con­ducted any re­search and de­vel­op­ment into atomic weapons, and says the to­tal­ity of its nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties are meant purely to gen­er­ate power or for re­search.

IAEA ex­pert teams try­ing to probe the sus­pi­cions of se­cret weapons work by Iran tried — and failed — twice in re­cent weeks to get Ira­nian per­mis­sion to visit Parchin.

Tehran said Mon­day that such a visit would be granted. But it said that a com­pre­hen­sive agree­ment out­lin­ing con­di­tions of such an in­spec­tion must first be agreed on — a move dis­missed by a se­nior in­ter­na­tional of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the is­sue as a de­lay­ing tac­tic.

The EU state­ment was sprin­kled with diplo­matic code words meant to con­vey strong crit­i­cism of Iran’s de­fi­ance of in­ter­na­tional de­mands that it lower ten­sion lev­els by com­pro­mis­ing on its nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties.

“We deeply re­gret” Iran’s lack of ef­forts to dis­pel in­ter­na­tional sus­pi­cions, said the state­ment, urg­ing it “to en­ter with­out de­lay” into a di­a­logue with the agency that leads quickly to di­min­ish­ing fears of a se­cret nu­clear-weapons agenda on the part of Tehran.

Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Guido Wester­welle was even more di­rect. He said Ger­many and the five other world pow­ers try­ing to en­gage Tehran on its nu­clear pro­gram were send­ing “a clear mes­sage to Iran to fi­nally end its non-co­op­er­a­tion and to clear up all the jus­ti­fied con­cerns about the pur­pose of its atom pro­gram trans­par­ently and log­i­cally.”

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