Last updated: 18 January, 2012

UN to probe military angle to Iran nuclear drive

A high-level IAEA delegation visiting Iran January 29-31 aims to verify if Tehran’s nuclear programme has a military dimension, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said in an interview to be published Thursday.

“We wish to simply verify all that has a military dimension… and I simply want Iran to cooperate,” Yukiya Amano told Financial Times Deutschland.

Iran denies Western accusations of a military nuclear drive, saying its programme is geared toward peaceful ends.

Amano also rebuffed suggestions from Tehran that the IAEA was in part behind the murder of a top Iranian nuclear scientist on January 11.

“It’s false. We have never published his name. I do not know him.”

Iran has not only been battling mounting US-led pressure on its economy, but also a covert campaign, including murder and sabotage, which it has blamed on Israel and the United States, despite Washington’s denials and Israel’s silence.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered security stepped up for all of Iran’s nuclear scientists following the assassination last week of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, the 32-year-old deputy director of a key facility.

Iran has said it is willing to restart talks with world powers on its nuclear activities that collapsed a year ago, but it has not formally responded to an EU letter offering a resumption of the negotiations.

But a defiant Tehran has also raised new Western concerns in recent weeks by starting uranium enrichment operations at a heavily defended bunker southwest of Tehran, and by announcing fresh naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic choke point for much of the Middle East’s oil.