Iran turns summit to nuclear show
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tours an exhibition on laser technology in Tehran in 2010. Iran is set to open its three nuclear sites to high-profile foreign officials visiting country on the sidelines of a summit. AFP PhotoIran has turned the non-aligned summit into a nuclear show, inviting the Egyptian president to its nuclear site Bushehr as the U.N. secretary-general will visit Natanz uranium enrichment facility, and also Tehran may allow participant diplomats to enter its controversial military site Parchin.
Iran may consider opening Parchin, a military site the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suspects has housed nuclear experiments, Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Mehdi Akhundzadeh was quoted as saying by state-owned yjc.ir news website. Access for diplomats from non-aligned nations to the Parchin base would be an attempt by Iran to show openness during this week’s Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) gathering in Tehran between Aug. 30 and 31, but it would certainly not satisfy U.N. demands, The Associated Press reported. U.N. nuclear inspectors have been pressing for wider access to Parchin, southeast of Tehran, to probe suspicions that Iran carried out explosive tests with possible nuclear trigger applications. A limited inspection carried out by the U.N. nuclear watchdog in 2005 found no proof of any nuclear weapons activity at Parchin. But according to information from an IAEA report in November 2011, it is believed the site has also been used for testing high explosives that could be used in nuclear weapons. Iran is keen to use the summit to gather support for “legitimate rights” to nuclear activities, which are the source of a showdown between it and the West. Iran’s two other bases, apart from Parchin, are also expected to have high profile visitors soon. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Natanz uranium enrichment facility on the sidelines of the NAM summit.
Akhundzadeh told Fars news agency that Ban “will visit Isfahan province during his stay in Iran,” while other sources said he would pay a visit to Natanz facility during his stay in Isfahan.
Ban to convey concerns at the summit
Ban, who is to participate in the summit as an observer, aims to “convey the clear concerns and expectations of the international community” on that and other issues, according to his spokesman.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will visit Bushehr nuclear facilities, Mansour Haqiqatpour, a member of Iran’s Majlis Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, said Aug. 26. Haqiqatpour also confirmed visits by the NAM heads of state to Natanz, Isfahan and Bushehr nuclear facilities, according to Iranian Press-TV.
Morsi’s presence in Iran will be notable because it will be the first by an Egyptian leader since diplomatic relations were broken in 1979, after Cairo hosted Iran’s toppled shah and signed a peace accord with Israel.
The NAM foreign ministers were yesterday to take over from their aides to finesse the details of the summit, which will bring together heads of state and government from more than 30 countries, according to organizers, Agence France-Presse reported.
NAM, a Cold War grouping founded in 1961, has 120 members representing most of the developing world and which see themselves as independent of the influence of Washington or Moscow.