Iran Nuclear NewsIran slams U.N. nuclear chief, denies keeping secrets

Iran slams U.N. nuclear chief, denies keeping secrets

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Reuters: Iran sharply criticized the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Monday and rejected accusations Tehran is not cooperating enough with inspectors trying to verify whether it is seeking atomic weapons.

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Iran sharply criticized the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Monday and rejected accusations Tehran is not cooperating enough with inspectors trying to verify whether it is seeking atomic weapons.

Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, told the U.N. General Assembly that “Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Amano is in New York to present the IAEA’s annual report on its global activities to the 192-nation assembly.

The IAEA chief’s remarks provoked an angry response from the Iranian delegation, with Tehran’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Eshagh al-Habib telling the assembly they were “incorrect and misleading.”

He said the fact the IAEA has reported “so much details about Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities proves that the agency has the full access to all nuclear materials in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Iran’s relations with the IAEA have become more tense since Amano took office late last year. He has adopted a blunter approach than his predecessor Mohamed ElBaradei, including stating in a report that intelligence indicates Iran has sought to develop a nuclear-tipped missile.

The United States, European Union and their allies suspect Iran may be secretly amassing the capability to produce nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program. Tehran insists its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.

The Iranian envoy implied the IAEA’s reports were being influenced by countries that Tehran says are unfairly accusing it of developing weapons.

“It seems that the recent reports of the agency have been prepared under pressure from the outside,” al-Habib said.

He repeated that Tehran was “determined to exercise the inalienable right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and to build on their own scientific advances … including (the nuclear) fuel cycle.”

The Iranian delegate reiterated that Tehran was interested in meeting with five permanent U.N. Security Council members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and Germany in the near future.

Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul said on Monday he expected his country to host talks between Iran and the six major powers “sometime soon.”

The six powers have offered Iran economic and political incentives in exchange for a suspension of uranium enrichment but Tehran refuses to stop the program.

The Iranians have been hit with four rounds of U.N. sanctions for continuing the program in defiance of Security Council demands for a halt.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to a U.S. Jewish conference in New Orleans on Monday, called on the West to convince Iran of a willingness to take military action to prevent it from producing atomic weapons, saying sanctions had failed to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.

(Editing by John O’Callaghan)

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