(photo credit: AP)
Supreme Iranian Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday said that Iran was not seeking nuclear weapons, a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published a report expressing concern the Islamic republic may be aiming to develop a nuclear-armed missile.
In Thursday’s report, the IAEA expressed concern for the first time that Iran may currently be working on ways to turn enriched uranium into a nuclear warhead, adding that Iran managed to make a minute amount of near 20-percent enriched uranium within days of starting production from lower-enriched material.
"The West's accusations are baseless because our religious beliefs bar us from using such weapons ... we do not believe in atomic weapons and are not seeking that," Iranian state television quoted Khamenei as saying in a report cited by Reuters.
Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, also rejected the UN watchdog's report, saying the documents cited in the report were "fabricated and thus do not have any validity," according to an AFP report.
"None of the documents had any confidential or secret stamps on them," Soltanieh reportedly said. "And thus it was proved that all of the documents have been fabricated and are baseless and thus do not have any validity.”
Soltanieh went on to say that “the issue of the missile or explosives has nothing to do with the IAEA's charter and function.”
Russia's Foreign Ministry, however, warned on Friday that the Islamic republic may face sanctions over its controversial nuclear program even though the issue is not currently being discussed at the UN Security Council, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.
"The UN Security Council is not working on a resolution on possible
sanctions at the moment, but in the wake of the recent developments, we
cannot completely rule out the beginning of this work," Foreign
Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko was quoted as saying.
Also on Friday, Reuters reported that Iran’s noncompliance on the nuclear issue was causing the German government to very seriously consider imposing new sanctions on Teheran.
Iran’s defiance and “continuation of a dangerous nuclear policy are forcing the international community to pursue further comprehensive sanctions in New York against the regime in Teheran," the news agency quoted government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm as saying at a news conference.
Wilhelm reportedly added that despite increasing skepticism in the West concerning Iran’s intentions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel still favored the diplomatic option and remained strongly opposed to a military strike.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, President Shimon Peres told the Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that in order "to
restrain Iran's nuclear ambitions, Israel must create a wide coalition
of states to stand with her in the face of the Iranian threat."
Peres explained that a nuclear Iran would be dangerous because of the
nature of the Iranian regime. "The question is not who has a bomb, but
who has hangmen who carry out executions. The Iranians are hangmen
trying to get a bomb and it's time to call the hangman by his name, to
call a dictator - a dictator," the president urged.