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Iran Refuses IAEA Inspections

In another display that should confirm that talks (or talks of talks) with Iran are like seeking a hare in an empty rabbit hole, Iran denied the IAEA permission to inspect operations and equipment at their Arak heavy water reactor in western Iran.

Iran stopped inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from conducting design information verification at the country's heavy water reactor at Arak, violating agreements with the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

In a letter to Iran, IAEA chief inspector Olli Heinonen criticised Iran's decision, reminding Iranian authorities that the agreements in question could not be modified unilaterally by Teheran.

Iran said it would only provide design information on Arak or similar sites six months before nuclear material was introduced. The reactor, scheduled to go online in 2009, would have the potential to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.

In light of to Iran's refusal to cooperate with the IAEA, the EU is considering strengthening its sanctions against Teheran. Israel urged the United States on Thursday to adopt a harder position against Iran, while Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki reiterated his country's inalienable right to nuclear power.

In the letter dated April 18, the IAEA also confirmed that Iran set up two additional centrifuge cascades for uranium enrichment at is enrichment plant at Natanz, bringing the total number to 8 cascades with a total of around 1,300 centrifuges.

Recall that Ali Larijani, the head of Iran's National Security Council, reiterated just four weeks ago that Iran's nuclear dispute should be handled within the framework of the IAEA. Western readers should not confuse this title with its name-only equivalent in the US (National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley), as Larijani is far more than an 'advisor.'

Larijani said, "We had long discussions with Dr. ElBaradei concerning nuclear talks and finding ways to solve the issue in a logical and wise manner." He then suggested, "Dr. ElBaradei and I both believe that this issue should be solved in principle in the agency, because IAEA is a supervisional body and a center of professional work in this concern."

"Supervisional" up until the point of actual supervision, of course.

How many times do various members of the Iranian regime have to declare that their nuclear quest is non-negotiable before it sinks in?