Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denounced a secret nuclear document unearthed by The Times of London as an American government forgery Monday, as the top U.S. general warned that military force could not be ruled out against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Confronted with a copy of The Times document during an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, the Iranian president waved it aside, refusing to look. "No, I don’t want to see this kind of document," Ahmadinejad said. "These are some fabricated papers issued by the American Government."
It was the first public comment by the Iranian leader on the two-page document since its existence was revealed a week ago.
Nuclear experts say that the papers, which detail a plan to test a neutron initiator, one of the final components of a nuclear bomb, may be one of the strongest indications yet of a continuing nuclear weapons program in Iran.
Ahmadinejad refused to address the question of whether Iran had worked on the device, the trigger for a nuclear bomb, dismissing Western claims of a military dimension to the country’s nuclear program. "I think that some of the claims about our nuclear issue have turned into a repetitive and tasteless joke," he said.
Tehran insists that its program is for the production of civilian nuclear energy, despite anomalies, such as its lack of nuclear power stations and the recent revelation of a secret uranium enrichment plant in Qom that inspectors say is inconsistent with the declared civilian programme.
Responding to Ahmadinejad’s accusations of fakery, David Axelrod, the senior White House adviser, said: "Of course, that’s nonsense. Listen, nobody has any illusions about what the intent of the Iranian Government is and we have given them an opportunity to prove otherwise by allowing them to ship their nuclear material out to be reprocessed for peaceful use.
"And they have passed on that deal so far and the international community is going to have to deal with that if they don’t change their minds."