US, Iran trade barbs at nuclear meeting

2011-09-19 19:01

Vienna - The United States and Iran traded accusations at a meeting of the UN atomic agency on Monday, underlining the deep deadlock between the two adversaries in a long-running dispute over the Islamic state's nuclear programme.

In speeches to the annual member state gathering of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iranian nuclear energy chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani and US Energy Secretary Steven Chu took aim at the policies of their respective countries.

"Iran has continued to engage in a long-standing pattern of denial, deceit and evasion, in violation of its [nuclear] non-proliferation obligations," Chu said.

Accusing Tehran of "provocative behaviour", Chu warned Iran that it faced deepening isolation if it continued to defy international demands over its atomic activities, which the West suspects have military aims.

Speaking shortly afterwards and clearly referring to the United States, Abbasi-Davani talked of the "danger of such a country that owns nuclear weapons... is a serious concern for the global peace and security".

He suggested that "hostile positions" of some states could force a country like Iran to conduct nuclear activities in secret and "put them underground", remarks that may heighten Western worries about the Islamic state's intentions.

Iran recently began shifting its uranium enrichment centrifuges to a subterranean mountain bunker near the holy city of Qom as part of an effort to triple its capacity to produce higher-grade refined uranium.

Himself slightly wounded in a 2010 car bomb blast, Abbasi-Davani accused Iran's foes of planning to assassinate more Iranian scientists, hinting the  International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - the UN nuclear watchdog - was partly to blame.

Abbasi-Davani has been personally subjected to UN sanctions because of what Western officials said was his involvement in suspected nuclear weapons research.

"Some countries and their intelligence terrorist organisations have focused on assassinating our experts," he said, according to an English translation of his speech.

In July, university lecturer Darioush Rezaie was shot dead by gunmen in eastern Tehran, the third murder of a scientist since 2009.

One was killed in a car bomb, the second by a device detonated remotely.

Iran has said the attacks were the work of enemies that wished to deny it the right to develop nuclear technology which it says is aimed at generating electricity.


Washington has denied any involvement in the murders and arch foe Israel has declined to comment.

Abbasi-Davani was named head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation a few months after he survived a car bomb blast in Tehran in November last year.

Naming the three slain scientists, Abbasi-Davani said "some others are in their assassination list".

He added, without elaborating: "We strongly urge the IAEA to clear its name and reputation in co-operating and preparing the ground in these measures."

Abbasi-Davani also called on the IAEA to move towards "closing the nuclear case of Iran", referring to its probe into allegations that Iran may be working to develop an atomic bomb.

For several years, the IAEA has been investigating Western intelligence reports indicating Iran has coordinated efforts to process uranium, test high explosives and revamp a ballistic missile cone so it could take a nuclear warhead.

Last week it publicly said for the first time it was "increasingly concerned" about the reports. Iran has called the reports forged and baseless.

But its refusal to halt enrichment has led to four rounds of UN sanctions on the major oil producer, as well as tighter US and European Union restrictions.

Chu voiced particular concern about Iran's decision to move higher-grade uranium enrichment to an underground bunker near the holy city of Qom, a move that could offer more protection against any Israeli or US air strikes.

"Expanding, and moving underground, its enrichment to this level marks a significant provocation and brings Iran still closer to having the capability to produce weapons grade uranium," Chu said.

French Industry Minister Eric Besson told the meeting that Iran's nuclear programme "poses an unacceptable threat to the regime of non-proliferation and to regional stability".

  • slg - 2011-09-20 01:48

    There's nothing really to discuss with the thugs who have hijacked Iran.

      Raimundo Antonio Meneses - 2011-09-20 12:01

      Those thugs were voted by the people of iran to be in power of that country, you will not decid any people's will.

  • Raimundo Antonio Meneses - 2011-09-20 12:01

    It is stupid to be said that Iran is provoquing any country by enriching uranium, by countries that have atomic and term nuclear bombs in their arsennals. Why iran will be a toothless country? Iran never invaded any country, never rided alien land! the same we could sai from US, France, Great Britain or Israel? Those countries are not the international comunity at all, are only the countries that want to control the world and the international comunity and manipulate any country which they think that do not deserve their confidence.

      Warslat - 2011-09-22 22:15

      Are you saying having every country armed with nukes would be a good thing and non-proliferation is bad?

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