Iran on Friday fired back at the International Atomic Energy Agency for its report insuating that recent work at the nation's Parchin military facility were related to a secret nuclear weapons program and that such activity would hamper future IAEA inspections.
The IAEA's report, released as the Iranian government hosted the Non-Aligned Movement summit meeting in Tehran, claimed that Iran has increased uranium enrichment operations at underground facilities at the Fordow site and raised concerns about what appeared to be clean-up operations at Parchin.
According to the IAEA, the number of centrifuges at Fordow, near the holy Shi'ite Muslim city of Qom, about 130 km from Tehran, had more than doubled to 2,140 from 1,064 in May. The IAEA acknowledged that the new machines were not yet operating.
The restricted report, seen by Agence France-Presse and other outlets, says the IAEA's ability to inspect Parchin site, located about 30 km southeast of Tehran, has been "significantly hampered" by the clean-up.
"These statements have no technical basis," Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told the ISNA news agency. "Anyone who has expertise in this area knows that these statements are mere pretexts and that one cannot 'clean a site' of nuclear work."
Tehran says Parchin is a merely military base with conventional military activities and not related to its nuclear program and thus falls outside IAEA's legal inspection authority, but the IAEA says that testing of conventional weapons at the site could possibly be part of a warhead development program that could supplement a nuclear weapon program.
"Publishing this report while Iran is holding the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting does not mean anything other than it was a political move aimed at overshadowing the meeting in Tehran," said Kazem Jalali, a member of Iran's parliamentary national security and foreign affairs committees.
Western powers, led by Israel and the US, accuse Iran of running a clandestine nuclear weapons program, but have yet to offer any conclusive evidence that this is the case. Tehran denies it holds atomic weapon aspirations, but continues to affirm its right to pursue nuclear technology to generate electricity and for medical purposes.
On Thursday, the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared that Iran's policy remains the advancement of a nuclear weapons-free Middle East and called atomic armaments a "great sin."
"Our motto is nuclear energy for all and nuclear weapons for none," he said.
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