The battle between Iran and the West for acquiring psychological high-ground has commenced in earnest as the countdown begins for crucial nuclear talks between Tehran and the six global powers in Baghdad on May 23.
On Monday, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast warned the six world powers who are engaged in a nuclear dialogue with Iran, to avoid mounting pressure against Tehran, as the tactic could prove counterproductive ahead of the May 23 talks. A day earlier, Iran's chief negotiator on the nuclear issue, Saeed Jalili said that the West must not make “unconstructive remarks" ahead of the upcoming talks in Baghdad. He warned that the era of "pressure strategy" had long ended, and “any kind of miscalculation" would endanger negotiations.
Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council along with Germany had, after a long hiatus, held a fruitful round of talks in Istanbul on April 13-14. They had then decided to hold a more substantive dialogue in Baghdad.
The Iranians are apparently upset at the latest media leak, ahead of Monday's talks in Vienna, where Tehran's interlocutors appear set on mounting additional pressure on Iran to open its military facility in Parchin to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). On the eve of the Vienna talks with the IAEA, the Associated Press has released the image of a computer-aided drawing of an explosives containment, that is apparently used for conducting "nuclear arms-related tests”. According to the AP report, the drawing is based on information provided by an insider who had seen this contraption at the Parchin site.
Based on satellite imagery, the IAEA has in the past aired its suspicions that that the Parchin military site, 30 kilometers from Tehran, houses an explosives chamber, which can be used for developing atomic weapons.
Last week, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, said gaining access to Parchin would be the Agency's top priority during the Monday-Tuesday talks.
Iran has already agreed in principle to open up the site for a visit by IAEA inspectors, who had earlier gone to Parchin in 2005.
Even before the inspectors head to Parchin, new allegations are swirling around Iran that it has already “cleaned up” the facility, of incriminating material related to nuclear weapon research. Last week, the Washington based Institute for Science and International Security, released new commercial satellite imagery of Parchin. In its analysis, it said that the images suggested that Iran had tried to “clean up” the explosives testing chamber at the site.
Iran's Foreign Ministry has rubbished the group's claim on Friday. The semi-official Mehr News Agency quoted Mr. Mehmanparast, the ministry's spokesman as saying: “The institute is not experienced enough. If it was, it would know that nuclear activities cannot be cleaned up in such a way that they claim, and they have joked with our nation.”
Keywords: Iran's nuke issue