Iran rejects nuclear weapons claims, terms IAEA visit 'ordinary'

Iran Materials 20 April 2008 17:46 (UTC +04:00)

The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Sunday rejected claims to the International Atomic Energy Agency that Tehran was studying atomic weapons and termed an upcoming visit by an agency's delegation "ordinary."

IAEA General Secretary Mohammed ElBaradei said on Thursday a delegation from the UN nuclear watchdog would visit Iran to probe whether the country had a special weapons system. ( dpa )

The delegation, which would be headed by deputy director general Olli Heinonen, is to arrive in Tehran on Monday. Heinonen is the head of an IAEA unit that investigates whether countries have secret nuclear programmes.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini played down the claims about alleged "weaponisation studies" and said Heinonen's visit was within the framework of Tehran-IAEA cooperation.

"These are baseless and unfounded allegations. We have presented our evaluation to the agency regarding the alleged studies," Hosseini said in news conference in Tehran broadcast live on national television.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei circulated a progress report on an the investigation into Iran's nuclear programme last February, saying that open questions remained on alleged weaponization studies, including high explosives testing, green salt - a uranium conversion project, and design of a missile re-entry vehicle.

Iran's Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh reaffirmed Tehran's position that the studies were fabrications and claimed that Iran had answered all outstanding questions about its nuclear past. However, western nations have stressed that the issue was far from closed.

The West fears that Iran seeks atomic weapons which Tehran denies saying its nuclear programme is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.

The United Nations Security Council has already issued three resolutions against Iran, including sanctions, for defying the suspension of its nuclear programmes, especially the uranium enrichment process.