Iran's President Hassan Rouhani.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that the country's doors are open to the UN's nuclear watchdog even as the Islamic Republic announced two separate technical developments that could potentially give Tehran the capability to create a nuclear weapon.
Iranian atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi claimed Monday that Iran had developed new centrifuges, used for enriching uranium, which are 15 times more powerful than the country's current centrifuges. AFP quoted Salehi as saying the new centrifuges "surprised the Westerners."
Salehi claimed that the development was not a violation of the November 24 nuclear agreement
signed with Western nations that gave Iran sanctions relief in return for cooperation on its nuclear program.
Meanwhile, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported that the country's military had successfully tested two ballistic missiles.
"The new generation of ballistic missile with a fragmentation warhead, and a Bina laser-guided surface-to-surface and air-to-surface missile, have been successfully tested," AFP quoted Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehgan as saying.
Dehgan, who announced the successful test on the 35th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, said that the new ballistic missiles could "evade anti-missile systems."
The UN nuclear watchdog signaled its determination on Monday to get to the bottom of suspicions that Iran may have worked on designing an atomic bomb, a day after Tehran agreed to start addressing the sensitive issue.
Chief UN nuclear inspector Tero Varjoranta said his team made good progress during Feb. 8-9 talks in Tehran but that much work remained to clarify concerns about Iran's nuclear program in an investigation that Western diplomats say the Islamic state has long stonewalled.
"There are still a lot of outstanding issues," Varjoranta, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said at Vienna airport after returning from the Iranian capital. "We will address them all in due course."
In Tehran, Rouhani told a gathering of foreign diplomats that Iran's doors "are open to the IAEA within international regulations", the official news agency IRNA reported.
"We have never sought weapons of mass destruction. We don't want nuclear know-how for war, as some countries do," he said.