Iranian uranium conversion facility - AP - 10112011
An Iranian technician inside a uranium conversion facility near the city of Isfahan. Photo by AP
Text size

A senior Iranian envoy is accusing the head of the United Nations' nuclear body of security leaks that expose his country's scientists and their families to the threat of assassination by the U.S. and Israel.

In a letter to by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano, Ali Asghar Soltanieh said the leaks in a recent report have made Iranian scientists "the targets for assassination by ... [the] Israeli regime and United State[s] of America intelligence services."

The accusations reflect Iran's fury with Amano over the report to the IAEA board detailing Tehran's alleged secret research and development of nuclear weapons.

Soltanieh alleged that the agency of releasing the report early to the United States, Britain and other countries. Some of its contents were leaked to Western media before release on November 8.

"This is a clear violation of the [IAEA] staff regulation, the oath taken by the Director General upon his assumption of the post, as well as the spirit and letter of the Statute of the IAEA since all member states have to be treated equally," he said in a letter to IAEA chief Yukiya Amano.

"My government reserves its legitimate rights ... to seek damages, monetary and otherwise, from the IAEA for any injury to persons and damages to property in my country that may arise from your unjustified, unfair and politically motivated reports and decisions that may be taken on the basis of such reports."

He appeared to be hinting at speculation that Israel, which sees Iran's nuclear program as an existential threat, might launch pre-emptive attacks on Iranian atomic sites in the absence of diplomatic negotiations to resolve the dispute.

Soltanieh's letter, dated November 16, was distributed to media in Vienna Friday, shortly before the governing board of the IAEA was due to start a debate on a draft resolution on Iran.

Earlier Friday, the 35-nation board of the UN nuclear watchdog looked set to censure Iran over findings that it has sought to develop atom bombs, after the six big powers overcame divisions on how to best deal with a defiant Tehran.

Iran showed no sign of backing down in the protracted dispute over its atomic activities, threatening to take legal action against the International Atomic Energy Agency for issuing a hard-hitting report about Tehran's nuclear program.

Last week's IAEA report presented a stash of intelligence indicating that Iran has undertaken research and experiments geared to developing a nuclear weapons capability. It has stoked tensions in the Middle East and redoubled calls in Western capitals for stiffer sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Iran says it is enriching uranium only as fuel for nuclear power plants, not nuclear weapons. It has dismissed the details in the IAEA report obtained mainly from Western spy agencies as fabricated, and accusing the IAEA of a pro-Western slant.