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Top Iran official calls for cooperation from West in return for 'transparency'

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 4:30 PM EDT, Thu March 15, 2012
  • International powers have agreed to resume nuclear talks with Tehran
  • A top Iranian official says inspectors can't visit a military facility ahead of the talks
  • He says Iran will provide more transparency when the West shows more cooperation
  • Mohammad Javad Larijani: "Every possibility is on the table" in the event of an attack on Iran

Geneva, Switzerland (CNN) -- Iran says it wants more clarity from the IAEA before it allows inspectors into the Parchin military complex south of Tehran, one of Iran's most influential officials said Wednesday.

Iran denies it conducted any nuclear experiments there, even though it is suspected of having tested explosives for a nuclear device in the early 2000s. High-level diplomats told CNN's Christiane Amanpour it's believed Iran abruptly stopped any work toward weaponizing its nuclear program after 2003. But weapons inspectors want to make sure.

"If the Western community is asking us for more transparency, then we should expect more cooperation," said Mohammad Javad Larijani, a member of a powerful political clan in Iran and an adviser to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

International powers have agreed to resume nuclear talks with Tehran in the pursuit of a diplomatic solution to the tensions over Iran's controversial nuclear program amid saber rattling in Israel about the possible need for a pre-emptive strike.

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"The equation is simple. The Western community can ask us for more transparency. What we want in place of that is cooperation," Larijani said. "I mean this is two parallel lines. One step transparency from us, one step cooperation from (the) West. Because we have full total suspicion of the American and Western intentions."

The six powers that negotiate with Iran -- the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany -- have urged Tehran to grant inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency access to its Parchin military base.

But in an interview in Geneva, Larijani said that allowing inspectors in before the start of the new talks would "not contribute to confidence." He denied that any nuclear-related activities are taking place at Parchin.

IAEA inspectors visited Parchin twice in 2005, but they did not enter the building that housed the test chamber.

Last week, two Western diplomats told CNN that satellite images show trucks and earth-moving vehicles at Parchin. The description buttresses IAEA concerns that the Iranians were trying to clean up the facility. But the diplomats said that while the imagery does show cleanup activity, it's not clear what might be being cleared away.

Iran offered last week to let international nuclear inspectors into Parchin, but only after details are worked out. IAEA inspectors had asked to visit the facility during a February trip to Iran but were rebuffed.

"This Parchin issue is a recurring issue," said Larijani, whose title is secretary-general of the Iranian High Council for Human Rights.

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"Once it has been discussed, a lot of evidence was given to the agency, but still with the new request Iran did not reject it," he said. "Iran asked elucidation on what basis, what kind of test they want to do, where they want to look and what will be the end result."

Ultimately, Iran is willing to allow "full transparency" of its nuclear program with "permanent human monitoring," Larijani said, but not right away and only if Western powers give Iran all the rights allowed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

No date or location for the renewed talks has been announced.

Larijani complained that Western sanctions on Iran were "beyond being unfair" but denied they were effective.

"Does it stop Iran's capability for developing its nuclear facilities for peaceful means?" he asked. "Definitely not. So it is a failure."

Iran's economy has been hit hard by U.S. and European oil and financial sanctions over its nuclear activities, while another round of sanctions targeted the crude sales that make up about half of Tehran's revenue.

Meanwhile, Israel has threatened to attack Iran's nuclear sites should peaceful alternatives be exhausted.

In the event of an attack on Iran, Larijani said that Tehran would not exclude the possibility of closing the Strait of Hormuz, the only shipping lane out of the oil-rich Persian Gulf, or a missile strike on Israel.

"Here I want to copy the wording of President (Barack) Obama," he said. "Every possibility is on the table."

Larijani sought to downplay the significance of comments attributed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a few years ago suggesting that Israel should be wiped off the map.

He said the comments were "definitely not" meant in a military sense and that such an approach was not "a policy of Iran."

CNN's Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

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