Why Iran left the US off invite list for tour of nuclear sites
Iran's invitation to Russia, China, and other nations to visit its nuclear facilities is seen as an attempt to magnify divisions in the international community ahead of talks later this month.
Iran has invited diplomats to visit its nuclear facilities, but left America and key European nations off the guest list ahead of the next round of nuclear talks slated for later this month in Istanbul.Skip to next paragraph
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In an apparent bid to magnify divisions in the international community and thus ease sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, Iran has invited Russia and China – two of the six world powers involved in the talks, which have shown most reluctance to increase pressure on Iran – to tour nuclear sites in mid-January.
But not included were four key members of the P5+1 negotiating group that have been most critical of Iran. The US, Britain, France, and Germany claim that Iran wants to build nuclear weapons behind the facade of a peaceful power program.
“The Iranians are always trying to divide the coalition, and I think the point of the meetings [for the Iranians] is not to resolve the problem, but to deflect pressure for more sanctions, by demonstrating that Iran is not recalcitrant,” says Shahram Chubin, an Iran nuclear expert with the Carnegie Endowment based in Geneva.
“The Russians and the Chinese like to have any excuse not to go to the next step, or indeed to implement the current steps, and the Iranians play on that,” says Mr. Chubin, author of a 2006 book about Iran's nuclear efforts. Iran’s tactic is to “delay and prevaricate and divide, and it's always in response to pressure, despite what it says. Of course, that [pressure] is exactly the only way you can get the Iranians to focus.”
Also invited were Hungary, which now holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, Egypt, Cuba, the Arab League, and the Non-Aligned Movement. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that Iran wanted to show “cooperation with the IAEA,” the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency.
Tour to include Bushehr, Natanz
Iran is currently under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions and a host of separate US and European measures, which have begun to bite into its ailing economy. Those sanctions require Iran to halt uranium enrichment until it can resolve remaining questions about possible weapon efforts with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Iranian officials said the tour would include meetings “with high-ranking officials” in Iran, according to the Dec. 27 invitation seen by the Associated Press. Iran’s conservative leaders have stated repeatedly that they will not stop enrichment under any circumstances, though other steps may be discussed.