IAEA requests from Iran irrelevant, says senior cleric

Iran Materials 21 November 2008 14:23 (UTC +04:00)

A senior Iranian cleric on Friday termed the requests by the United Nations nuclear watchdog from Iran as irrelevant and further criticized its head Mohamed ElBaradei for "ambiguous remarks."

"The IAEA should act impartially and within its defined framework and not follow accusations which have no documented proof," former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said at the Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran, reported dpa.

The cleric was referring to the latest report on Iran by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General ElBaradei who said that "regrettably, as a result of the lack of cooperation by Iran in connection with the alleged studies and other associated key remaining issues of serious concern, the Agency has not been able to make substantive progress on these issues."

Rafsanjani, in rebutting the IAEA, commented "Mr. ElBaradei is unfortunately making ambiguous remarks? on the one hand he says there are no deviations in the Iranian nuclear programme, on the other hand he blames us for not replying to baseless charges not directly coming from the IAEA."

The IAEA has received documents from a number of member states indicating that past Iranian projects on missiles, high explosives and uranium conversion could have been related to nuclear weapons work.

"The United States has made several accusations but presented no documents, not even to the IAEA, for proving their charges. Besides that the IAEA is not in charge of following allegations made by other member states," Rafsanjani said, justifying Iran's rejection of the IAEA request to inspect nuclear sites outside the agency's jurisdiction.

Tehran says it has no problems with IAEA inspections but they should be within the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), meaning it must be after coordination with Tehran.

As Iran stopped implementation of the IAEA Additional Protocol - which allows snap inspections - some three years ago, agency inspections could no longer be effected without prior notice.

"We are for peace and stability in the region and not after confrontation but we will neither allow the IAEA nor the UN Security Council to violate our (nuclear) rights," Rafsanjani said.

Iran says that numerous inspections by the IAEA have proved Iran's claim that its nuclear projects were solely for peaceful and civil purposes and Tehran, as NPT signatory, should therefore be allowed to follow a civil nuclear programme, including uranium enrichment.

Tehran is further demanding the return of its nuclear dossier from the UN Security Council to the IAEA in Vienna and be dealt with as a normal case.