Khamenei dismisses UN nuclear concerns

State TV reports that Iran's supreme leader has said the country does not believe in and is not seeking atomic weapons.

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Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said yesterday the country does not believe in and is not seeking atomic weapons, state TV reported. Ayatollah Khamenei was commenting a day after a leaked report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN atomic watchdog, expressed concern that Tehran might have been trying to develop a nuclear warhead. "Iran's response to these nonsensical comments will not be an emotional one, since our religious beliefs are against the use of such weapons," he said.

"We in no way believe in an atomic weapon and do not seek one." Russia, which until recently had said talk of sanctions on Iran were premature, said it was "very alarmed" by the development and the foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said his country's patience was wearing thin with the Islamic republic. "We cannot accept this, that Iran is refusing to co-operate with the IAEA," Mr Lavrov told Russian radio. "For about 20 years, the Iranian leadership carried out its clandestine nuclear programme without reporting it to the IAEA.

"I do not understand why there was such secrecy." France and Germany both expressed concern over the revelations in the document, with France urging world powers to act with "determination". On Thursday, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, in his first report to the watchdog's board of governors, said Iran might have been trying to develop a nuclear warhead. "The information available to the agency ... raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile."

Iran's envoy to the UN atomic watchdog dismissed on Friday the IAEA's concern as "baseless". Ali Asghar Soltanieh said the documents cited in the report by the IAEA were "fabricated and thus do not have any validity". "I have also said many times that when they showed these documents to us none of the documents had any confidential or secret stamps on them," Mr Soltanieh said. "And thus it was proved that all of the documents have been fabricated and are baseless and thus do not have any validity.

"Iran will neither cooperate beyond the IAEA safeguards nor will it carry out demands of the United Nations resolutions." Mr Soltanieh said Tehran's reasons were that Iran considers the resolutions contrary to international law. Iran also faced international censure on Thursday after it was blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force, the international body fighting money laundering and terrorist financing. Iran was been named a jurisdiction where risks emanate due to substantial money laundering and terrorist financing, the FATF said, urging member countries to apply counter measures to protect the international financial system.

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse and Reuters