Iran starts nuclear tour for seven IAEA envoys

Tehran said the tour is a sign of goodwill and proof that the Islamic state is conducting its nuclear work transparently and not pursuing a secret military programme, as suspected in the West.

The seven envoys are reportedly from Algeria, Cuba, Egypt, Oman, Syria, Venezuela and the Arab League.

Atomic chief Ali-Akbar Salehi and Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, accompanied the delegation to the site of the unfinished heavy water reactor of Arak, and the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, IRNA said.

The tour comes less than one week ahead of the next round of nuclear talks in Istanbul between Iran and the six powers: Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US.
According to Salehi, there has also been an invitation to European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, to visit the nuclear sites before the Istanbul talks on behalf of the six negotiators.

Ashton - and the six - however rejected the invitation, saying IAEA experts should conduct inspections, not diplomats.

"We made the invitation as a sign of goodwill. They did not avail themselves of this opportunity but we respect their decision," Soltanieh said.

Iran also sent envoys to China and Russia, who have friendlier ties with Tehran, to persuade them to join the tour, but both rejected the invitation.

Iran claims that the seven, from the Arab League and Non-Aligned Movement, represent 120 countries which approve of Iran's peaceful nuclear programmes.

But they have no role in the negotiation process and cannot have much influence on probable future UN sanction resolutions against the Islamic state.

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