|Bianca Ortega |||Oct 09, 2014 12:00 AM EDT|
(Photo : Reuters / Ruben Sprich) Iran's President Hassan Rouhani smiles during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 23, 2014.
Iran defended its denial of entry to a United Nations (UN) nuclear expert earlier this year amid an investigation into allegations that it is studying nuclear weapons production.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) blasted Iran for not issuing a VISA to one of its experts who was part of the on-going nuclear probe, but Tehran said it had the right to do so. However, Iran's recent move may heighten the West's suspicions that it is trying to block the UN probe, according to Reuters.
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Last month, the IAEA said an investigative team visited Iran on August 31 to look into the potential military dimensions of the latter's nuclear activities. But Iran failed to issue a VISA for one of the team's officials, the UN nuclear watchdog said.
The VISA denial marks the third time that Iran has blocked the entry of the unnamed official. In a report released September 5, the IAEA said the participation of all the members of the team it had endorsed is very important.
Iran struck back by saying it had the prerogative on whether to grant a VISA to a person or not. It has the "sovereign national right" to decide on VISA issuance, Iran said in a statement addressed to IAEA members.
For years, the UN nuclear watchdog has been trying to clarify the accusations that Iran has begun studying nuclear bomb production. Iran, on the other hand, says the allegations are baseless, and vowed to cooperate with the agency to clear up the issue.
Iran maintains that its nuclear program is peaceful, but the rising suspicions about nuclear weapons production have led the West to impose economic sanctions on the country in question. Tehran hopes the negotiations will succeed so the sanctions will finally be lifted.
Western officials urged Iran to cooperate with the nuclear agency's inquiry to help the negotiations succeed.
For several years, Iran has prevented other staff from Western countries from entering the country to investigate its nuclear sites. However, Tehran said it had issued VISAS to three new IAEA team members in the last few months.
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