PM to Ashton: Iran using talks to gain time (JERUSALEM POST) By TOVAH LAZAROFF, REUTERS 05/10/12)
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Wednesday that Iran was
using diplomatic talks with the West to gain time to develop its
“Iran is using these talks to play for time,” Netanyahu told European
Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Ashton paid a one-day trip to Jerusalem to hold a joint meeting with
Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister Ehud
Barak and newly appointed Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz.
She spoke with them in advance of P5+1 talks in Baghdad on May 23.
Representatives of six countries – the United States, Great Britain,
China, France, Russia and Germany – will hold a second round of talks
with Iran there in an effort to get Tehran to halt its nuclear
Netanyahu told Ashton, “There is no evidence, whatsoever, that the
Iranian government has any intention to cease its aggressive pursuit
During the meeting, Israeli officials told Ashton that a diplomatic
process would be successful if Iran agreed to three conditions:
stopping the production of enriched uranium, removing all enriched
uranium from Iran and dismantling the underground uranium enrichment
facility in Qom.
Her visit came as a US security institute said that commercial
satellite imagery showed new activity at an Iranian military site.
The images raised concern that the Islamic Republic may be “washing”
a building the UN nuclear agency wants to inspect.
Iran dismissed the report, as it has previously rejected allegations
about the Parchin complex, where the UN’s International Atomic Energy
Agency suspects nuclear weapons-relevant research may have taken
“They are joking with our nation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin
Mehmanparast was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students’ News
Agency. It is not possible to “wash” nuclear activities, he added.
Iran has yet to allow the IAEA to visit the facility southeast of
Tehran, despite repeated requests.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano reiterated last week that the agency had
recently noticed “activities” there. He gave no details but Western
diplomats suspect Iran may be cleaning the site before any inspection.
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a
Washington-based think tank specializing in nuclear proliferation,
said it had acquired commercial satellite imagery from April 9 that
backs up the IAEA’s concern.
“The new activity seen in the satellite image occurred outside a
building suspected to contain an explosive chamber used to carry out
nuclear weapons related experiments,” it said on its website in a
report on Tuesday including the satellite image.
Iran’s mission to the IAEA has previously dismissed allegations aired
about Parchin as “childish” and “ridiculous.”
The images showed items lined up outside a building and what appeared
to be a stream of water, ISIS said.
“The items visible outside the building could be associated with the
removal of equipment from the building or with cleansing it,” it said.
“The stream of water that appears to emanate from the building raises
concerns that Iran may have been washing inside the building, or
perhaps washing the items outside the building,” ISIS said.
Previous satellite images from recent months did not show any similar
activity at the building, indicating it is not a regular occurrence,
The IAEA has said that gaining access to Parchin is a priority when
it holds a new round of talks with Iran in Vienna next week after two
previous meetings in Tehran failed to make any notable progress.
But Western diplomats said they would be surprised if Tehran granted
the request. Iran has suggested that a broader agreement on
cooperation with the IAEA must be reached before it will consider
letting inspectors into the site.
An IAEA report late last year revealed a trove of intelligence
pointing to research activities in Iran of use in developing the
means and technologies needed to assemble nuclear weapons.
One finding in the report was information that Iran in 2000 had built
a large containment chamber at Parchin in which to conduct high-
explosives tests that the IAEA said are “strong indicators of
possible weapon development.”
A senior US official said on Tuesday that Iran must cooperate with
the IAEA’s investigation and provide access to relevant sites,
personnel and documents.
“Iran continues to delay and obstruct that process,” Thomas
Countryman, US assistant secretary for international security and
nonproliferation, told a meeting in Vienna. (© 1995-2011, The
Jerusalem Post 05/10/12)
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