West blasts Iran for inspector ban

2010-09-15 15:35

Vienna – Western countries on Wednesday condemned Iran for its decision to bar key nuclear inspectors from the country, saying this was a clear attempt to intimidate the UN atomic watchdog.

In a joint statement to the 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency here, Britain, France and Germany slammed the Islamic republic over its so-called "de-designation" of inspectors.

In June, Tehran revoked the permits of two experienced IAEA inspectors, alleging they had made "false" reports to the agency about Iran's nuclear programme.

"We wish to draw the board of governors' attention to the seriousness of the 'de-designation' measures against inspectors, about which Iran notified the IAEA on June 10," the statement said.

It was read to the closed-door assembly by France's ambassador to the IAEA, Florence Mangin, and a copy was obtained by AFP.

"These measures are aimed at officials of the agency who have acquired experience of Iran's nuclear programme. The Iranian authorities are clearly trying to intimidate the agency so as to influence its ability to report to the board and undermine its ability to effectively implement the safeguards regime in its territory," Mangin said.

Unprecedented action

Washington's envoy Glyn Davies said it was "unprecedented for a state to reject inspectors because they report accurately... what they see and what they hear.

"To that end, the United States fully supports the IAEA's denunciation of Iran's treatment of certain inspectors, which we consider a clear effort to intimidate inspectors and thereby influence the conclusions of inspectors in Iran," Davies said in his own separate address to the board.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano complained earlier this week, and in his latest report on Iran, that Tehran's decision to bar experienced inspectors was "hampering" the agency's work.

But Iranian ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh rejected such suggestions.

"They're trying to make an issue (out of this)," Soltanieh told reporters on Monday, insisting it was Iran's right, under the terms of its safeguards agreement with IAEA, to vet inspectors. Furthermore, member states were not obliged to provide a reason for such a decision.

It was "ridiculous" for the agency to complain about the decision to bar just two inspectors when there was a pool of "over 150 inspectors" to draw from, Soltanieh said.