Iran Says UN Nuclear Team to Visit This Month for Talks
January 17, 2012
Iran says senior U.N. nuclear officials will travel to the country later this month to discuss their concerns about the Iranian nuclear program.
Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh said Tuesday the U.N. delegation will visit Tehran from January 29 to 31 for talks on topics "of interest" to the agency. He says Tehran's agreement to host the team led by IAEA deputy director-general Herman Nackaerts is a "sign of transparency" in Iran's nuclear activities and engagement with the United Nations.
The IAEA issued a report last November saying it has evidence suggesting that Iran has been researching the development and delivery of nuclear weapons. Iran says the report was based on fabrications. It insists the Iranian nuclear program is only for peaceful use.
Western powers also have expressed concern about Iran's recent launch of an underground uranium enrichment facility that produces material of a purity approaching that needed for a nuclear weapon.
The United States and its allies have been tightening sanctions on Iran to pressure it into stopping such activities. European Union foreign ministers will meet next week to consider a ban on Iranian oil imports, a measure that would deprive Iran of vital foreign currency income. Iran is the second largest oil producer in the OPEC cartel after Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi has said Riyadh is prepared to boost oil production by 2 million barrels a day to offset any shortfall in global supplies resulting from a boycott on Iranian oil. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akhbar Salehi said Tuesday the Saudi offer is "unfriendly" and urged Riyadh to reconsider it.
Iranian representative to OPEC Mohammad Ali Khatibi said Tuesday an EU embargo on Iranian oil would be "economic suicide" for the 27-nation bloc, whose members are trying to overcome a debt crisis.
Iran has threatened to respond to an oil embargo by closing the Strait of Hormuz, a vital waterway for the global oil trade. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Iran's threat "provocative and dangerous."
India said Tuesday it will continue to import Iranian oil despite U.S. sanctions aimed at pressuring other nations to stop such purchases.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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