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article imageIran nuclear chief harshly criticizes IAEA

By Layne Weiss     Sep 17, 2012 in World
Vienna - Iran's nuclear chief, Fereydun Abbasi-Davani, said Monday that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may have been infiltrated by "terrorists and saboteurs."
Abbasi-Davani said explosions last month had cut power to a uranium enrichment facility right before the IAEA came for a visit, BBC News reports.
He made it clear he felt it was a little suspect that the IAEA visited the uranium enrichment launch just a day after the power lines were cut.
"Does this visit have any connection to the detonation?" he asked according to Haaretz. "Who other than the IAEA inspectors can have access to the complex in such a short time?"
In a speech in front of 155 nations at a gathering of IAEA member states in Vienna Monday, Abbasi-Davani spoke of countries, most notably the United States, trying to curb Iran's nuclear program, The Associated Press reports.
He challenged any nation trying to sabotage Iran's nuclear program to launch new attacks and warned that his country was prepared to protect its interests through such attacks.
"We are a powerful country. We can confront any kind of international espionage whether it is an explosive or a virus," Abbasi-Davani told reporters.
On Thursday, the IAEA chastised Iran for refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment project, BBC News reports.
The 35-member governing board expressed "serious concern" over Iran's continued defiance to comply with the UN's demands that it halt its uranium enrichment, and its refusal to answer questions about its nuclear program.
Abbasi-Davani's defiant speech Monday is likely to give Israeli leaders even more ammunition to support their claims that diplomacy and sanctions are simply not working, The AP reports.
According to BBC News, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has warned that Iran is only about six or seven months away from having just about everything it needs to build a nuclear bomb.
He said the only way to prevent this is for the United States to draw a "red line" on Iran's nuclear program, and declare that crossing it will lead to military action.
Netanyahu has been urging US President Barack Obama and other world leaders to be more specific and clear on what it would take for Iran to face a military attack, The AP reports. Obama and his top aides, however, have noted that there is no proof that Iran has decided to use its nuclear program to build a bomb, and that all options including diplomacy and economic sanctions, remain on the table.
Iran has repeatedly stated its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.
During his speech Monday, Abbasi-Davani said that "The Islamic Republic of Iran has always opposed and will always denounce the manufacture and use of weapons of mass destruction," Haaretz reports.
He insisted that his country's nuclear program would only be used for making "reactor fuel" and "medical research."
Despite Abbasi-Davani's criticism of the IAEA and a lack of any sort of progress thus far, its spokesman, Yukiya Amano said the agency was still committed stronger dialogue, BBC News reports. The two sides last met August 24. The meeting ended without an agreement.
EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is due to meet Iran negotiator Saeed Jalili in Istanbul Tuesday.
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