Iran: IAEA made dangerous mistake

2010-09-14 20:04

Tehran – Iran's nuclear chief said on Tuesday the head of a UN watchdog agency made a dangerous mistake by criticising Tehran for not fully co-operating.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said on Monday he cannot confirm that all of Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful, as Tehran claims, because the country has offered only selective co-operation to the UN nuclear watchdog and has rejected several inspectors.

"If Mr Amano has expressed the remarks knowingly, he has committed a big mistake and it is very dangerous," said Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's nuclear programme. He said this would amount to outside pressure on Iran.

In blunt remarks, Amano suggested that it is still not clear whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons because the country continues to stonewall an IAEA probe.

Salehi reiterated Iran's right to choose inspectors. Iran has rejected two inspectors, accusing them of leaking information on the country's nuclear programme. The IAEA, however, has insisted on reinstating them.

Iran is under increasing pressure by the West, including four rounds of UN sanctions, over allegations it is using its nuclear programme as a cover for weapons development.

Fourth set of sanctions

Also on Tuesday, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and head of a powerful council within Iran, warned about the rising number of international sanctions against Iran.

"We have never had so many resolutions against our governments by the international community including the UN Security Council and the IAEA," he said.

The UN Security Council imposed a fourth set of sanctions on Iran in June after Tehran refused to halt is nuclear enrichment activities.

Uranium enriched to more than 90% can be used to manufacture weapons. Iran says it currently enriches uranium up to 20% for medical radio isotopes and up to 3.5% to fuel a nuclear power plant.

It says its programme is only for peaceful purposes.