Tel-Aviv professor: Iran’s invitation to foreign representatives an empty gesture

Tel-Aviv professor: Iran’s invitation to foreign representatives an empty gesture

Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 7 / Trend T.Konyayeva /

Iran's invitation to foreign representatives for visiting the country is a very symbolic gesture but has absolutely no value, said Professor Meir Litvak at Tel-Aviv University's Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.

"What Iran is doing is a continuation of its previous policies," he told Trend over the telephone, adding that "this is an empty gesture designed to demonstrate symbolic but not real cooperation and to split the international coalition."

On Tuesday, the Western media reported that Iranian representative to IAEA Ali Askar Soltaniyeh sent a letter of invitation for a visit to Iran's nuclear facilities to the 'Six' international mediators, in order to resolve the controversy surrounding Iranian nuclear program.

The document said that the optimum date for such a visit will be Jan. 15- 16, that is, the visit should take place before the upcoming negotiations of the Six and Iran in Istanbul. [(Russia, USA, China, Britain, France and Germany), European Union, the Group -77 "(G-77), as well as the Non-Aligned Movement.]

The Iranian authorities will give demonstration to representatives about two foreign uranium enrichment plants in Natanz, heavy water plant and heavy water research reactor in Arak, Iranian news agency IRNA reported on Tuesday.

The invitees include Russia and China, which hold strategy of "dual path" toward Iran, as well as Brazil and Turkey, who voted against the new UN sanctions in June. Countries such as USA, UK, France and Japan, which voted for the sanctions, have not received an invitation. At present, only China has accepted the invitation.

Litvak said the fact that Iran did not invite the Americans means they want to split the international coalition.

Several Western diplomats in New York, with European officials among them, said on condition of anonymity that Moscow and Beijing were being actively discouraged from attending since it could undermine the united front of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany on Iran's nuclear issue, Reuters reported.

In addition, Litvak said that inviting inspectors for a one-time visit does not mean much, since the major issue is should or would Iran continue to enrich Uranium to this level, which could only mean military usage.

"In other words, inviting foreign visitors now does not tell us anything about Iran's future measures," Litvak said.

The Iranian nuclear program has caused concern since 2003, when the IAEA became aware of its secret activities. In late 2003, Iran signed the Additional Protocol to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and voluntarily announced the suspension of uranium enrichment. However, it later returned to these activities.

The enriched uranium can be used to produce nuclear weapons. However, it is necessary as fuel for atomic power plants. Several countries, including the U.S., are sure that Iran strives to develop nuclear weapons and call for the prevention this development. Tehran has denied all charges, saying that its nuclear program has peaceful purposes.

The situation around Iran's nuclear program flared up again after Tehran officially notified the IAEA about its intention to begin work on uranium enrichment on its territory at a plant in Natanz. In turn, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran had independently begun to enrich uranium to 20 percent.

Uranium enriched to more than 90 percent is required to make a nuclear weapon.

Regarding visits to the Arak reactor, which has not yet been put into operation, then, Litvak said, the question was whether Iran would allow the inspection once the plant starts its operations.

Iran has constructed the reactor in the Hondab area in the Markazi province. A heavy water production plant Katran was built near the site of the reactor. AEOI Deputy Head Mohammad Saeedi said Iran has become the ninth country of the world, which has mastered the technology for producing heavy water.

According to experts, this plant will allow Iran to create a closed nuclear fuel cycle and, thus, to obtain technical capability to produce nuclear weapons by eliminating the need to import heavy water.

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