The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) violated its own terms when it released an incriminating report on Iran's nuclear program and threatened the lives of Iranian scientists, according to Iran's ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh.

In a letter to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, Soltanieh argued that the UN nuclear watchdog violated its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement when it released the names of Iranian nuclear scientists in findings about Tehran's supposed ongoing research for developing a nuclear weapon.

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Soltanieh wrote that publishing the scientists' names "has made them targets for assassination by terrorist groups as well as the Israeli regime and the US intelligence services."

The envoy contended that Iran reserves the right to demand compensation from the agency for any damage resulting from the report, according to Israel Radio.

The 35-nation board of the UN nuclear watchdog looked set on Friday to censure Iran over mounting suspicions it is seeking to develop atom bombs, after the six big powers overcame divisions on how to best deal with a defiant Tehran.

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But a draft resolution expected to win support from most countries at the meeting of IAEA did not include any concrete punitive steps, reflecting Russian and Chinese opposition for such measures.

Iran showed no sign of backing down in the protracted dispute over its atomic activities, threatening to take legal action against the Vienna-based UN agency for issuing the hard-hitting report about Tehran's nuclear program.

Last week's IAEA report presented a stash of intelligence indicating that Iran has undertaken research and experiments geared to developing a nuclear weapons capability. It has stoked tensions in the Middle East and redoubled calls in Western capitals for stiffer sanctions against Tehran.

Iran says it is enriching uranium only as fuel for nuclear power plants, not atomic weapons. It has dismissed the details in the IAEA report obtained mainly from Western spy agencies as fabricated, and accusing the IAEA of a pro-Western slant.

Soltanieh, accused the agency of leaking the report early to the United States, Britain and France. Some of its contents appeared in Western media before their release on 8 November.

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