Iran ‘not seeking’ atomic weapons

IRAN’S supreme leader and armed forces commander-in-chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said yesterday the country does not believe in and is not seeking atomic weapons, state television reported.

Khamenei was commenting a day after a leaked report by the United Nations atomic watchdog expressed concern that Tehran might have been trying to develop a nuclear warhead.

“Recently some Western and US officials have been repeating some outdated and nonsensical comments that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons,” Khamenei told commanders at the launch of Iran’s first domestically made naval destroyer in the Gulf.

“Iran will not get emotional in responding to these nonsensical comments, since our religious beliefs are against the use of such weapons.”

“We in no way believe in an atomic weapon and do not seek one,” he added.

He also criticised the US military presence in the Gulf and said Washington was trying to frighten Iran’s Arab neighbours into buying its weapons.

On Thursday, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano, in his first report to the watchdog’s board of governors, expressed concern that Iran might have been trying to develop a nuclear warhead.

“The information available to the agency ... raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile,” Amano wrote.

The language of the report was much more blunt than that used by Amano’s Egyptian predecessor, Mohamed ElBaradei, who stepped down at the end of November.

The Vienna-based IAEA has been investigating for a number of years intelligence reports claiming Iran was involved in weapons research.

In 2007, a US intelligence report said Iran halted such research in 2003, but Amano’s report gives credence to the belief of some Western governments that the programme has covertly continued.

On Friday, Iran’s envoy to the UN atomic watchdog dismissed the IAEA’s concern as “baseless.”

Ali Asghar Soltanieh said the documents cited in the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency were “fabricated and thus do not have any validity.”

“I have also said many times that when they showed these documents to us none of the documents had any confidential or secret stamps on them,” Soltanieh said.

“The issue of the missile or explosives has nothing to do with the IAEA’s charter and function,” he added.

Soltanieh also repeated Tehran’s stance that Iran’s nuclear programme is a peaceful one.

“The Islamic republic has repeatedly said it will never halt its peaceful nuclear activities nor stop its co-operation with the agency,” he added.


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