Iran chides UN’s Ban over nuclear comments

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Iran chided UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for criticizing its disclosure of a new nuclear plant, saying he was repeating “baseless” Western charges and should have awaited the views of UN experts.

At a meeting on Friday with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ban expressed “grave concern” about the uranium enrichment plant that is being built south of the Iranian capital, according to Ban’s press office.

His view echoed those of US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In a statement released to media yesterday, Iran’s UN mission said Ahmadinejad had responded by saying Ban had forestalled the opinions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.

Ahmadinejad “said it is of grave concern that the UN Secretary-General, instead of waiting for the IAEA, as the competent body, to reflect on this issue … has chosen to repeat the same allegations that (a) few Western powers are making,” the statement said.

Western powers have accused Tehran of concealing the nuclear plant until it was about to be discovered and repeated their worries the enriched uranium will be used to build atomic weapons. Iran says it only aims to produce electricity.

Ahmadinejad also had dismissed “baseless allegations of concealment” and said Iran had informed the IAEA of the plant a year earlier than it was obliged to under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the statement said. Ahmadinejad made similar comments at a news conference in New York on Friday.

“Iran has acted with utmost transparency in this regard and it should be encouraged for having done so instead of being unfairly criticized,” the statement said.

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