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IAEA chief under 'political pressure': Iran

Iran said on Tuesday that the chief of the UN atomic watchdog is under "political pressure" when it comes to the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.

world Updated: Feb 15, 2011 15:48 IST

Iran said on Tuesday that the chief of the UN atomic watchdog is under "political pressure" when it comes to the Islamic republic's nuclear programme.

"It is clear that statements that are ambiguous or seek to create confusion are made under political pressure," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters.

He was reacting to comments from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano in an interview with the Washington Post newspaper published on Monday voicing concern over Iran's atomic programme.

"We have announced many times that our country's peaceful activities are within the frameworks of our rights and NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) and (IAEA) agency regulations," Mehmanparast added.

"All reports from the agency have confirmed that Iran has had no diversion from its peaceful path," the spokesman added.

Amano told the Post: "We receive information from various countries and collect information from our own sources that give us concern over the possible use of nuclear materials for military purposes, in the past and perhaps now."

But the IAEA did not have hard evidence implicating Tehran in nuclear bomb making. "We don't have a smoking gun. We have concerns."

Amano also said Tehran was making steady advances in enriching uranium. "Iran is somehow producing uranium enriched to 3.5% and 20%. They are producing it steadily, constantly.," he said.

Iran is at loggerheads with the West over its nuclear programme, especially the uranium enrichment drive. The latest round of nuclear talks between Tehran and world powers broke down in Istanbul in January.

Western powers led by the United States suspect Iran is masking a weapons drive under the guise of a civilian atomic programme, a charge strongly denied by Iran.

Tehran maintains that as a signatory to the NPT, it has the right to enrich uranium.

Iran is currently under four sets of UN sanctions and other unilateral punitive measures imposed by several countries, including the United States and European Union.