REPORTING FROM TEHRAN AND BEIRUT -- Iranian officials Tuesday rejected a new report by the United Nations' nuclear inspection agency, which accused the country of taking steps to develop a nuclear weapon.
Iran maintains its nuclear program is entirely for civilian purposes. In a late-night report, Iranian state-run television described allegations of a possible military component as "ridiculous" and claimed they were concocted by Western intelligence services.
The official media cited the "chaotic" nature of the document’s release and various revisions as evidence of Western "pressures."
The report by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency raised "serious concerns" about Iran's program, saying, "Credible ... information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."
"The information also indicates that prior to the end of 2003, these activities took place under a structured program, and that some activities may still be ongoing," the report said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the U.S. and other Western nations have no proof that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
"The West and the United States are exerting pressure on Iran without serious arguments and proof. We have repeatedly stated that we are not going to create nuclear weapons," Salehi was quoted as saying by the Agence France-Presse news agency during a visit earlier Tuesday to Armenia.
While assailing Washington and the West, Iranian authorities have directed their ire at Yukiya Amano, the Japanese director-general of the IAEA. Iran routinely refers to Amano, a former diplomat who has run the U.N. watchdog for almost two years, as a lackey of Western interests.
"Unfortunately, they have appointed a person as the director of the agency who not only has no say, but also has flouted the agency’s regulations and merely repeats what the U.S. says," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency.
"The atomic agency has been issuing erroneous reports on our country while it has never released a report on the nuclear activities of the United States and certain other countries whose atomic bombs have put the world in danger."
-- Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Patrick J. McDonnell in Beirut
Photo: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, visits the Natanz uranium enrichment facility south of Tehran in a photo released by the Iranian government in April 2008. Credit: Iranian President's Office / Associated Press