Reuters: The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday it protects the confidentiality of information gathered during inspections, indirectly rejecting an Iranian accusation it would feed sensitive information to Washington.
VIENNA (Reuters) – The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday it protects the confidentiality of information gathered during inspections, indirectly rejecting an Iranian accusation it would feed sensitive information to Washington.
Relations between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have become increasingly strained over the last year, with the Vienna-based agency voicing frustration over what it says is lack of Iranian cooperation with its inspectors.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted earlier this week as saying the IAEA would pass on information about Iran’s nuclear program to the United States if Tehran agreed to widen the agency’s inspection powers in the country.
IAEA press officer Greg Webb said it had no comment on Ahmadinejad’s remarks.
But, he added in an e-mail to Reuters, “the IAEA takes great care to protect the confidentiality of information it collects during all its safeguards activities.” The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear bombs. Tehran says it is solely seeking to produce electricity but its refusal to halt sensitive atomic activity has drawn four rounds of U.N. sanctions since 2006.
The IAEA wants Iran to implement what it calls the Additional Protocol, which permits unfettered inspections beyond declared nuclear sites to ferret out any covert atomic activity.
Ahmadinejad ruled this out, in comments cited by state broadcaster IRIB on its website on Thursday. “The acceptance of the Additional Protocol would be tantamount to placing all of our nuclear activities under the supervision of the IAEA which would in turn pass our information to America,” he said.
Iranian officials say they are ready to resume talks with world powers later this month, but they are also making clear they will not back down in a long-running dispute over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has adopted a blunter approach on Iran than his predecessor Mohamed ElBaradei, including stating in a report that Iran could be trying to develop a nuclear-armed missile.
He has also accused Iran of hampering the agency’s work by barring experienced inspectors. Iran said two inspectors it banned from entering the country earlier this year had provided false information about its nuclear program.
(Reporting by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Ralph Boulton)