( dpa ) - Officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Monday dismissed espionage allegations against a senior staff member as "nonsense" and a probable attempt to discredit the UN nuclear watchdog.
The accusations, apparently based on memoirs of former Russian intelligence operative Sergei Tretyakov, are levelled in a book to be published on January 24 by former Washington Post reporter Pete Earley, the US-based publication Congressional Quarterly wrote on its web-page.
Tretyakov, a Russian defector, never identified the spy code-named Arthur, the magazine wrote, but other sources accuse IAEA section leader Tariq Rauf of spying for Russia.
Rauf, a 54-year-old Canadian of Pakistani descent, heads the IAEA's section of verification and security policy coordination, holds a PhD in Russian and Soviet studies and is an expert on arms control and disarmament.
"The whole story is a house of cards, it has too many holes and lacks substantiation," one diplomat close to the IAEA said.
"Tariq Rauf is a fine civil servant and we treat these allegations as baseless," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.
The allegations may be an attempt to damage IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, who drew US ire by his opposition to US claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and his attempts to find a compromise solution in the Iran nuclear dispute, Congressional Quarterly admitted.