U.S. calls Iran’s offer of nuke tour a PR stunt

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The offer of a visit comes more than three years after six diplomats from developing nations visited Iran‘s uranium ore conversion site at Isfahan, which turns raw uranium into the gas that is then fed into enriching centrifuges. Participating diplomats told reporters they could not assess Iran‘s nuclear aims based on what they saw there.

The new offer appeared more wide-ranging, both in terms of who was invited and sites to be visited.

Dated Dec. 27, the four-paragraph letter offered no details beyond offering an all-expenses paid “visit to Iran‘s nuclear sites.”

But a diplomat familiar with its contents said it was mailed to Russia, China, Egypt, the group of nonaligned nations at the IAEA, Cuba, Arab League members at the IAEA, and Hungary, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency. He spoke on condition of anonymity because his information was privileged.

China, and to a lesser degree Russia, have acted to dilute harsh sanctions proposed by the United States and its Western allies on the Security Council, leading to compromise penalties enacted by the council that are milder than the West originally had hoped.

The outreach to Moscow and Beijing in Tehran’s offer to visit appeared to be an attempt to leverage any differences between the Eastern and Western powers meeting the Iranians in Istanbul.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei acknowledged that Beijing has received an invitation and hopes the dispute over Iran‘s nuclear program would be resolved through dialogue.

The Foreign Ministry of Hungary also confirmed receiving the Iranian letter and said it is discussing the offer with other EU nations and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

AP writer George Jahn in Vienna, Austria, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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