BAGHDAD -- An Iraqi minister says Iran is refusing to answer repeated requests by Baghdad for information about Iranian nuclear facilities near the Iraqi border, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.
Iraqi Environment Minister Narmin Othman told RFI on JUne 30 that Iran has some 20 nuclear facilities, many of them along the border with Iraq in the south. She said the Iraqi government's demands for assurances that these installations meet International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safety standards and are used exclusively for peaceful purposes have been met with silence.
Othman said the efforts made by the IAEA on behalf of Iraq to induce Iran to be more cooperative on such a crucial issue as nuclear nonproliferation and safety have been equally fruitless.
Othman pointed out that in the face of Tehran's refusal to reply to Baghdad's requests, Iraq has set up early-warning stations, including three in Basra, to monitor radiation. She said Iraq is not the only country concerned with Iran's nuclear activities, and that the international community as a whole shares Baghdad's apprehension.
Political analyst Ibrahim al-Sumaidae told RFI that Iran's nuclear facilities near the Iraqi border pose a potentially serious environmental and radioactive threat, particularly considering the outdated technology used by Tehran.
He said Iran is violating the principles of good neighborliness by not taking into account Iraq's legitimate concerns about the existence of nuclear facilities so close to its borders. He added that Tehran could use its dangerously located nuclear facilities as a bargaining chip in the standoff with the West over its nuclear program and as a deterrent against a possible strike by the United States or Israel.
Al-Sumaidae said political divisions have weakened Iraq's regional position and ability to assert its interests not only in relation to Iran, but also with other neighboring countries.