(photo credit: AP)
Iran has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to remove a senior inspector from his post as the head of the expert team investigating Teheran's nuclear program, UN officials said Sunday.
The inspector, Chris Charlier, has not been back to Iran since April because of Iranian displeasure with his work, the officials said.
However, Charlier remains the head of the team, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity in exchange for discussing the confidential issue.
The German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported Sunday that Charlier had been removed from his post and assigned to other duties. It quoted him as saying that he believes Iran is operating a clandestine nuclear program and suggested it was linked to weapons.
IAEA spokespeople in Vienna declined comment Sunday.
Charlier, 61, has previously publicly complained that Iranian constraints made inspection work there difficult.
Teheran denies it is interested in nuclear weapons but revelations of past clandestine activities and finds of documents linked to warheads, along with its insistence on carrying out uranium enrichment, have heightened international suspicions.
Also on Sunday, Iran warned the G-8 against making any decisions on the nuclear issue in its absence.
The Group of Eight were warned against making any decisions on Iran's nuclear program without consulting it first, arguing that this could harm Tehran's talks with the European Union.
"Any (G-8) summit decision on Iran - if premature and incomplete - could harm the current positive trend of negotiations," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, referring to Iranian-EU talks about the incentives package offered to Iran to end the impasse over its nuclear program.
"The G-8 summit won't be comprehensive without Iran's participation and opinion," Mottaki said of the gathering by the leaders of the world's largest economies that is scheduled to open Saturday in St. Petersburg, Russia.