International nuclear inspectors are investigating whether a Russian scientist helped Iran conduct complex experiments related to detonating a nuclear weapon, a media report said on Friday.
As part of the investigation, inspectors at the IAEA are seeking information from the scientist, who they believe acted on his own as an adviser on the experiments described in a lengthy document obtained by the agency, American and European officials told the New York Times.
The unidentified officials, the Times said had made it clear they did not think the scientist was working on behalf of the Russian government.
Still, it is the first time that the nuclear agency has suggested that Iran may have received help from a foreign weapons scientist in developing nuclear arms, it added.
The American and European officials told the paper that the new document, written in Persian, was part of an accumulation of evidences that Iran had worked toward developing a nuclear weapon, despite its claims that its atomic work has been aimed at producing electrical power.
In February, in a closed-door briefing at the agency headquarters in Vienna, its chief nuclear inspector presented diplomats from several countries with newly declassified documents, sketches and even a video that he said raised questions about whether Iran had tried to design a weapon.
Among the data presented by Olli Heinonen, the chief inspector, were indications that the Iranians had worked on exploding detonators that are critical for the firing of most nuclear weapons, the paper said.
The Iranian envoy at the briefing called the charges "groundless" and protested that the tests were for conventional arms.