Last updated: 16 November, 2011

Iran to send “analytical” response to IAEA report

Iran is to send an “analytical” response to a report suggesting it was pursuing nuclear weapons, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Wednesday, a day before the UN watchdog meets on the issue.

“We have decided to draft and send an analytical letter with logical and rational responses to (International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya) Amano’s recent report,” the Iranian state television website quoted Salehi as saying.

Salehi said the letter would be distributed to countries and international organisations.

His announcement came before a meeting of the IAEA’s 35-member board on Thursday and Friday to consider the November 8 report which strongly suggested Iran was researching nuclear warheads, although it stopped short of saying so explicitly.

The United States and its allies are keen for the board to issue a resolution condemning Iran or referring it to the UN Security Council, according to a European diplomat in Vienna, where the IAEA is headquartered.

But Russia and China are seen as reluctant to go along, with Moscow criticising the report and likening it to the false intelligence presented by the United States in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Israeli officials have already raised the spectre of military action against Iran’s nuclear sites, based on the report.

Tehran has categorically denied it is seeking atomic weapons and dismissed the IAEA report as based on “false” information from Western intelligence services.

Salehi, who said Iran had already responded to the points raised in the report in a 117-page letter, called the IAEA report “unfair” and accused Amano of making a “hasty” move that damaged the watchdog’s reputation.

However Salehi also downplayed recent comments by parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, that Iran could review its cooperation with the IAEA over the report.

“The West wants to drive us into a hasty reaction and would not mind being able to say ‘Iran has left the NPT (the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty supervised by the IAEA)’,” he said.

Salehi said his country remained in “contact with the agency so that the situation does not worsen.”

The foreign minister was also quoted as saying that Iran’s nuclear activities “are making powerful progress.”

Iran is subject to four sets of UN sanctions and additional unilateral Western sanctions over its uranium enrichment programme, which it refuses to suspend.