Tehran confuses on IAEA talks, Tartous docking
TEHRAN / WASHINGTON
The IAEA delegation couldn’t get access to Parchin military site from the Iran government. REUTERS photoThe U.N. nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expressed disappointment yesterday over lack of progress during two days of talks in Tehran and said its request to visit a military site had not been granted.
The statement conflicted with the earlier statement from Iran that the IAEA team had no plans to inspect the country’s nuclear facilities and would only hold talks with officials in Tehran.
“The titles of the members of the visiting delegation are not inspectors. This is an expert delegation. The purpose of the visit is not inspection,” said Ramin Mehmanparast on Feb. 21, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman.
“During both the first and second round of discussions, the agency team requested access to the military site at Parchin. Iran did not grant permission for this visit to take place,” IAEA said in a statement.
“It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in the statement. “We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei said Iran’s nuclear policies would not change despite mounting international pressure.
Warning from Russia
Aside from the nuclear site visit dispute, Tehran’s latest show in the region became a topic of speculation by the latest Pentagon statement. Iranian state-run Press TV said Feb. 18 an Iranian navy destroyer and a supply ship had docked in the port of Tartous to provide training to ally Syria’s naval forces. But the Pentagon disputed reports Iranian ships docked at a Syrian port over the weekend.
Defense Department press secretary George Little said Feb. 21 the U.S. military saw no indication the ships had docked, nor had they delivered any cargo. Little said Tehran’s ships went through the Suez Canal and now appeared to be going back through the canal again.
Meanwhile, Russia warned yesterday a strike against Iran could have “catastrophic” consequences and urged nations not to draw early conclusions from this week’s failed mission by U.N. nuclear experts. “The scenario of military action against Iran would be catastrophic for the region and possibly the whole system of international relations,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told a news conference. Furthermore, Russia foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Moscow could not rule out that the U.S. would use the U.S. Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan for an eventual strike on Iran.
Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.