Iran accuses US of nuclear espionage

Mottaki: There are "facts and lies" in NIE report; insists Iranian gov't trying to restore nation's "rights."

iran nuclear new 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
iran nuclear new 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran has sent a formal protest note to Washington for "spying" on Iran's nuclear activities, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Saturday in the wake of the latest US report on the alleged Iranian weapons program. Mottaki said the American report earlier this week concluding that Teheran halted atomic weapons development in 2003 and hasn't resumed it since. US intelligence agencies based their findings on "satellite and espionage activities," according to Iran's official IRNA news agency. IRNA said the note was handed over to the Swiss Embassy in Teheran, which looks after US interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic relations between Teheran and Washington. "The day the report was issued, the Foreign Ministry submitted a formal note of protest to the Swiss Embassy and demanded explanations over (America's) espionage activities taking place (on Iran's nuclear program)," Mottaki was quoted as saying. The US report, released Monday, was a sharp turnaround from a previous intelligence assessment in 2005. Iran has touted the report as a vindication of its claim that its nuclear program is only peaceful. Iranian officials insist Washington should take a less hawkish stance and drop attempts to impose new UN sanctions in light of the report's conclusions. Mottaki said 70 percent of the US report was "true and positive," but denied its allegations of Iran having had a nuclear weapons program before 2003, according to footage provided by AP Television News. "The remaining 30%, in which they claim that Iran had a nuclear weapons program before 2003 is wrong," Mottaki said. "They refused to confess about this thirty percent because they did not want to lose all their reputation." Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, called the report a "sigh of relief" because its conclusions also jibe with his agency's own findings. The United States and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons - a claim denied by Iran, which says its nuclear program aims only to generate electricity. Iran has already been slapped with two rounds UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can produce either fuel for a reactor or a nuclear warhead. Mottaki said the US intelligence report contained both "correct and incorrect" information. He didn't elaborate which parts of the report were in his perception wrong, but claimed it was prepared in early 2007, only to be blocked from release earlier by political bickering in the United States. "The US intelligence agencies report had been prepared at the beginning of the year, but political disputes between the warmongering faction and their opponents delayed its release," Mottaki said. Mottaki was also quoted Saturday as saying US President George W. Bush was "lying" when he said he was informed of the report recently. "Remarks by Bush that he was informed of the report recently shows that he is lying and has a short memory," Mottaki said. Mottaki added that in the wake of the report, Iran ruled out any US military action against it for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. "We rule out the option of a military strike against Iran after the release of this report," the minister was quoted as saying.