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Iran bans 2 UN nuclear inspectors from entering

world Updated: Jun 21, 2010 21:06 IST
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Tehran said today it had banned two UN nuclear inspectors from entering the country because they had leaked "false" information about Iran's disputed nuclear programme.

The ban is the latest twist in Iran's deepening tussle with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency and the West over its nuclear programme. The United States and its allies warn that Iran's programme is geared toward making nuclear weapons.

Tehran denies the charge saying its nuclear activities are only for peaceful purposes like power generation.

The IAEA report in question stated that in January Iran announced it had conducted certain experiments to purify uranium, which could theoretically be used to produce a nuclear warhead. Iran then denied the experiments had taken place a few months later.

When the inspectors in May visited the Jaber Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Research Laboratory in Tehran, where the alleged high temperature pyroprocessing experiments were conducted, they said the equipment involved had been removed.

The Associated Press reported the IAEA's concerns in May, citing unnamed diplomats.

Iran, however, maintained in June there were no experiments related to pyroprocessing and no equipment was removed and has called the IAEA report "false with the purpose of influencing public opinion."

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi said on state TV that the IAEA had been informed of the decision to ban the inspectors, whom he did not identify.

"We announced names of two inspectors to the agency last week. Those two now have no right to enter Iran anymore," he said. "What they reported was untrue and they revealed it before it was officially reviewed."

Salehi also said Iran would remain loyal to its international commitments to the agency and the IAEA inspectors would still be able to inspect Iran's nuclear facilities.

Since 2006, after Iran's nuclear dossier was reported to the UN Security Council, Iran limited its cooperation to only its obligations under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

The UN Security Council slapped a fourth set of sanctions on Iran earlier this month over its nuclear program. The move followed Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process which can be used for the production of fuel for power plants as well as material for warheads if enriched to a higher level.