Iran bars two UN weapons inspectors for spreading 'false information'
Iran says two United Nations weapons inspectors spread false information about Tehran's nuclear program, and both are now unwelcome. Analysts see it as a reaction to the newest round of UN sanctions on Iran.
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The defiant move could renew international tensions over Iran's program. Tehran insists the program is for civilian energy and research purposes but the US, Israel, and others suspect its aim is to produce nuclear weapons. (See a map of Iran's suspected nuclear facilities from Agence France-Presse.)
"We called for banning their arrival in Iran for inspection, since they have also disclosed information before it had been examined officially and they had provided media with false information on Iran's nuclear work," Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said in a report posted on the website of Iran's official ISNA news agency. He did not identify the UN inspectors.
A report at Hamsayeh.net, an Iran-based news website, said the two banned individuals had compiled a "fictitious" report on Iran's nuclear program that was later cited by the United Nations Security Council. It also accused the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), of being biased.
Over the years, US and Western powers influences at the IAEA have transformed this supposedly independent agency as a tool in the hands of Washington and allies for conducting clandestine activities against other countries' legitimate nuclear programs.
There was no official reaction from the IAEA. But Reuters reports that a diplomat has confirmed that Iran notified the agency of the ban, which is likely retaliation for the newest round of sanctions placed on the Islamic Republic.
Iran's move was "the first of what will be many retaliations" for the sanctions, said Theodore Karasik, research director at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, in a Reuters interview. "It is part of the escalation ladder of tit for tat that is now beginning to emerge."
The UN passed a fourth, stricter round of sanctions on Iran on June 9 for refusing to halt its uranium enrichment – a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons. The newest sanctions target companies doing business with Iran's Revolutionary Guards or trucking in nuclear and ballistic missile materials, and authorize the search of ships for suspected weapons, The New York Times reported.