TEHRAN (Reuters) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has suggested the U.N. nuclear watchdog would pass information about Iran’s nuclear programme to the United States, underlining worsening relations between Tehran and the Vienna-based body.
Ahmadinejad, who is sending uncompromising signals ahead of a possible resumption this month of talks with the major powers on Iran’s nuclear programme, also ruled out giving the agency wider inspection powers in the Islamic Republic.
The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear bombs. Tehran says it is solely seeking to produce electricity but its refusal to halt sensitive atomic activity has drawn four rounds of U.N. sanctions since 2006.
International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano told the U.N. General Assembly this week that “Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
The IAEA wants Iran to implement what it calls the Additional Protocol, which permits unfettered inspections beyond declared nuclear sites to ferret out any covert atomic activity.
“The acceptance of the Additional Protocol would be tantamount to placing all of our nuclear activities under the supervision of the IAEA which would in turn pass our information to America,” state broadcaster IRIB quoted Ahmadinejad as saying on its website.
“We said we would not accept this protocol,” Ahmadinejad added. IRIB said he made the comments to local television in the northwestern city of Qazvin during a visit there on Wednesday.
Iran’s relations with the IAEA have become more tense since Amano took office late last year. He has adopted a blunter approach than his predecessor Mohamed ElBaradei, including stating in a report that intelligence indicates Iran could be trying to develop a nuclear-armed missile.
At a meeting of the IAEA board in September, Amano accused Iran of hampering the agency’s work by barring experienced inspectors. Iran said two inspectors it had banned from entering the country had provided false information about its work.
Iran has said it is ready to meet the six powers leading efforts to resolve the nuclear dispute diplomatically -- the United States, China, France, Britain, Russia and Germany -- in late November or early December in Turkey.
Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that Iran’s right to nuclear capabilities was non-negotiable. But European Union diplomats in Brussels said they believed he was not closing the door altogether on discussion of Iran’s nuclear programme.
(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Hashem Kalantari; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Ralph Boulton)