Iran Asks IAEA to Remove Chief Inspector

By GEORGE JAHN
The Associated Press
Sunday, July 9, 2006; 10:11 AM

BETINA, Croatia -- Iran has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to remove the head of the inspection team probing Tehran's nuclear program, U.N. officials said Sunday.

The inspector, Chris Charlier, has not been back to Iran since April because of Iranian displeasure with his work, the officials said.

However, Charlier remains the head of the team, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the issue was confidential.

The German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported Sunday that Charlier had been removed from his post and assigned to other duties. It quoted him as saying he believes Iran is operating a clandestine nuclear program and suggested it was linked to weapons.

IAEA spokespeople in Vienna, Austria, declined comment Sunday.

Charlier, 61, has previously complained publicly that Iranian constraints made inspection work there difficult.

Tehran denies it is interested in nuclear weapons but revelations of past clandestine activities and finds of documents linked to warheads, along with its insistence on carrying out uranium enrichment, have heightened international suspicions.

Meanwhile, Tehran warned the Group of Eight Sunday against making any decisions on Iran's nuclear program without consulting it first.

"Any (G-8) summit decision on Iran _ if premature and incomplete _ could harm the current positive trend of negotiations," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, referring to talks with the European Union about an incentives package offered to Iran to end the impasse over its nuclear program.

"The G-8 summit won't be comprehensive without Iran's participation and opinion," Mottaki said of the gathering by the leaders of the world's largest economies that is scheduled to open Saturday in St. Petersburg, Russia.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and top Iran nuclear envoy Ali Larijani met in Brussels, Belgium, last week. A formal meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.

On Sunday, Mottaki reiterated that Iran would give a formal response to the offer by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany next month. He hinted that Tehran planned to negotiate some aspects of the package first.

The West wants Iran to respond to the incentives before the G-8 summit.


© 2006 The Associated Press