* Lawmaker accuses nuclear agency chief Amano
* IAEA wants to investigate suspected atom bomb research
* Israel has increased hints of air strikes on Iran
* Iranian commander says Iran could strike first (Adds commander’s comments, IAEA no comment)
By Yeganeh Torbati
DUBAI, Sept 23 (Reuters) - A senior Iranian lawmaker accused the UN nuclear watchdog on Sunday of passing confidential details of Iran’s atomic work to Israel, and a military commander said Tehran may consider a pre-emptive strike on the Jewish state if it looked set to attack.
Javad Jahangirzadeh, a member of parliament’s presiding board, said International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano had made “repeated trips” to Israel, divulging sensitive information about what Tehran says is its peaceful nuclear programme.
“Amano’s repeated trips to Tel Aviv and asking the Israeli officials’ views about Iran’s nuclear activities indicates that Iran’s nuclear information has been disclosed to the Zionist regime and other enemies of the Islamic Republic,” Jahangirzadeh was quoted as saying by Iran’s English-language Press TV.
The IAEA declined to comment. Records show Amano has made only one visit to Israel in his capacity as IAEA chief, in August 2010. He visited Tehran in May this year.
“If the agency’s actions lead to Iran cutting cooperation with this international body, all responsibility will be with the IAEA director general,” said Jahangirzadeh, also a member of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee.
After weeks of increased hints by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel could strike Iran’s nuclear sites, prompting speculation that might happen before U.S. elections in November, an Iranian military commander said Iran could strike first if sure Israel were poised to attack.
“Iran will not start any war but it could launch a pre-emptive attack if it was sure that the enemies are putting the final touches to attack it,” Iran’s state-run Arabic language Al-Alam television quoted Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as saying.
While Hajizadeh’s comments might be seen as part of the usual hawkish rhetoric from the Iranian military, the politician’s accusation against the IAEA’s Amano suggest Tehran’s relations with the agency are severely strained.
Last week, Iranian nuclear energy chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani said “terrorists” might have infiltrated the Vienna-based agency.
He suggested the IAEA included too much sensitive information about Iran’s nuclear programme in its reports that he said could be used by saboteurs.
Western diplomats dismissed his allegations as an attempt to distract attention away from the agency’s bid to gain access to a site in Iran it suspects was used for nuclear weapons research, something Tehran denies.
Iran blames Israel and its Western allies for the assassination of nuclear scientists in Iran, including an unsuccessful attempt on Abbasi-Davani in November 2010. It also blames those countries for computer viruses that appeared designed to damage its nuclear machinery.
The 35-nation board of the agency censured Iran earlier this month for defying international demands to curb uranium enrichment and failing to address mounting disquiet about its suspected research into atomic bombs.
The resolution prompted Iran’s Parliament Speaker, Ali Larijani, to cast doubt on the benefit of Iran’s membership in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Tehran Times reported.
In another allegation of underhand behaviour against Iran, the head of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee said German engineering company Siemens had planted explosives in equipment it sold to Iran for use in its nuclear programme.
Siemens, which was building a nuclear power station in Iran before the Islamic Revolution that toppled the shah in 1979, denied Alaeddin Boroujerdi’s accusation.
“Siemens does not have any business ties with Iran’s nuclear programme and does not supply any technical equipment for it,” a spokesman for the Munich-based multinational said. (Additional reporting by Fredrik Dahl in Vienna, Maria Sheahan in Frankfurt, Zahra Hosseinian in Zurich; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)