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. Iran rejects 'baseless' bomb claims ahead of IAEA visit
TEHRAN, April 20 (AFP) Apr 20, 2008
Iran on Sunday rejected claims presented to the UN atomic watchdog that it may have been studying how to develop a nuclear weapon, a day ahead of a visit by a top International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) official.

"These are nothing but baseless and unfounded allegations," foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters. "The peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme has already been proven."

IAEA deputy director general Olli Heinonen is due in Tehran on Monday for talks with officials on the alleged weaponisation studies, the Vienna-based atomic agency announced on Saturday.

Heinonen gave a closed-door briefing to diplomats at IAEA headquarters on February 25 about evidence from member states suggesting that Iran could have been studying how to use its nuclear technology to make a warhead.

Western diplomats who attended said subsequently that the new evidence was troubling, but Tehran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and aimed solely at generating energy.

Hosseini played down the importance of the alleged weaponisation studies to Heinonen's trip, which he called a "normal" visit "within the framework of Tehran-IAEA cooperation."

"We have presented our evaluation (to the IAEA) regarding the alleged studies," he added, without elaborating.

Iran has repeatedly said that it considers its nuclear case closed after it answered the UN watchdog's questions about the history of its nuclear drive.

However, the IAEA has said it is still unable to confirm the nature of Iran's nuclear programme and complained that Tehran has defied repeated UN Security Council ultimatums to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment.

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