VIENNA – A leading Iranian official has accused Western nations of "nuclear terrorism" and blamed them of being behind the recent assassination of an Iranian scientist, in an internal document obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.
The documents was drawn up by Egypt as the head of the Vienna chapter of nonaligned nations, and cites another senior Iranian official as pledging to stage further visits to the nation's key nuclear sites to outsiders in the wake of a recent tour by envoys from nonaligned, developing and Arab nations.
The six-page report summarized the Jan. 15-16 visit of the diplomats to two sites of international concern — a heavy water reactor and related facilities being built in Arak and Iran's uranium enrichment plant at the central city of Natanz.
Iran insists it needs to build Arak to replace aging research reactors and says enrichment is meant only to make reactor fuel. But because both can contribute to a weapons program — Arak by providing plutonium for missile warheads and Natanz by creating weapons grade uranium for the same purpose — Iran has been slapped with four sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions.
Iran's nuclear secrecy, refusal to accept fuel from abroad and resistance to IAEA efforts to follow up on suspicions of covert experiments with components of a nuclear weapons program have heightened concerns.
In a killing apparently linked to Iran's atomic strivings, nuclear scientist Majid Shahriariwas was assassinated late last year and fellow scientist Fereidoun Abbasi was wounded. Both were targeted by car bombs that Iranian officials have variously blamed Israel and the United States for, as part of a campaign against Tehran's nuclear programs that included a cyber attack by the Stuxnet malware on the Natanz enrichment facility.
The document cited Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, as telling the visiting envoys that Western nations "exercise terrorism to liquidate Iran's nuclear scientists."
"Therefore it is important to define a new category of terrorism called 'nuclear terrorism' that aims to prevent developing countries from acquiring nuclear technology," Jalili was cited as saying.
Separately, acting Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's nuclear chief, told the visitors that Iran planned further invitations to outsiders to tour its nuclear facilities.
"Iran shall continue to issue invitations to such visits, including to experts, even to those who declined them, in the hope that they shall be able to accept the invitation in the future," he was reported to have said.
The tour went ahead without key invitees Russia, China, the European Union or key allies Turkey and Brazil, blunting Tehran's attempts to gain support from major powers for its nuclear ambitions.
Along with the U.S., Britain, France and Germany, Russia and China tried — and failed — to persuade Iran to open its atomic program to more perusal by the International Atomic Energy Agency and engage on international concerns about its enrichment program, with talks collapsing Saturday. Neither the U.S. nor the three other Western nations that sat at the table opposite Iran at those talks in Istanbul, Turkey, were invited to the tour.
The U.S. has mocked the visit, calling it a "magical mystery tour" and saying it is no substitute for Iran fully cooperating with the IAEA — the U.N. nuclear watchdog — to prove that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes.
In an interview with The Associated Press in the wake of the abortive talks, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano warned Monday that his agency cannot be sure that all of Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful because its oversight is limited.