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On a mission: UN nuclear watchdog arrives in Iran

Published time: January 29, 2012 16:10
Edited time: January 30, 2012 20:27

Herman Nackaerts (L), head of a delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), talks to journalists on his way to Iran at the international airport in Vienna January 28, 2012 (Reuters / Herwig Prammer)

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UN nuclear inspectors have arrived in Iran to examine the county’s atomic activities. Tehran says it hopes the visit will remove western allegations of nuclear weapon development.

­The International Atomic Energy Agency delegation including IAEA Chief Inspector Herman Nackerts and Deputy Secretary-General Rafael Grossi will spend three days in Iran. They will hold talks with officials and possibly visit the Fordo nuclear facility near the city of Qom in central Iran, where enrichment of uranium recently started.

Iranian officials say they are certain the talks will prove the nuclear program's purpose is purely peaceful.

We are inclined to be very optimistic about this visit. Iran does not conduct any secret or underground operations. All Iranian nuclear activities are transparent, and we as well as the opposite side are interested in finding a way out of the present situation," said Iran`s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

But Middle East expert and US Congressional candidate Paul Heroux told RT the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear weapons program is debatable.

“The IAEA has found some evidence that doesn’t prove, but suggests that maybe the program is designed for nuclear weapons purposes.”

The IAEA visit comes at a time when relations between Iran and the West are extremely tense. On Monday, EU members agreed to impose an embargo on Iranian oil starting July. There were also reports that Tehran is considering an immediate embargo of its oil exports to EU countries.

However, Professor Seyed Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran told RT the current standoff over Iran’s nuclear activities is a means for the West to reassert its waning influence in the world.

“The United States and Europeans are basically engaging in acts of war against the Iranian people, as Ron Paul, the US presidential candidate, said himself. I think most Iranians believe that the United States and the Europeans are losing ground in the Middle East and throughout the world, and this is an attempt to seriously hurt Iran at this juncture,” he said.

“The economy of Western European and North American countries – in comparison to their rivals – is on the decline.The only thing that they [the United States] have going for them is a very powerful military."

Marandi also argues Iranian sovereignty is a stumbling block to continued US domination of the region’s oil wealth.

“Arab regimes and dictatorships in the region are all aligned to the United States, and independent countries, except for Russia, really don’t have all that many choices for oil. China, for example, depends on oil from countries that are aligned to the United States. And Iran, since it’s an independent country, if the United States was able to bring about a change in the Islamic republic and overthrow the political order there, obviously that would put China in a very difficult position. So the Iranians believe that the real issue is not the nuclear program:it is Iran’s independence and sovereignty.”

­Author Michael Winter believes the outcome of the IAEA mission largely depends on the people “we are dealing with,” adding that if the inspectors are honest nothing new will be found.

“The sad fact is that we are not dealing with honest people when it comes to the US and EU and IAEA. They will create the evidence they need or may even perform an outright fabrication to justify their aggressive program.”


­Iran will never satisfy West’s demands

­Sasan Fayazmanesh, Middle East Studies program coordinator and professor emeritus at California State University, says we should not expect any breakthrough from this visit of the IAEA to Iran, as “it is impossible” to resolve all the issues during a short three-day trip, especially because the actual issue is “regime change.”

He also thinks that the results of the IAEA findings are largely irrelevant.

“If it was not for the issue of nuclear development in Iran, it would have been the support of terrorism in Iran. If it wasn’t for that, it would have been the lack of human rights in Iran. So basically what we are dealing with are excuses,” he said, adding that, “it is very similar to the case of Iraq.”

Commenting on the recently adopted EU embargo on Iranian oil exports, Fayazmanesh said it would not really affect Iran`s economy.

“It is not going to affect Iran that much because they probably can sell that oil to other countries. But it is possible that it will have an effect on the price of oil. It is very difficult to say what the effect would be.”


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