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    U.N. nuclear watchdog backs Iran's denial of Fordow blast

    VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. atomic watchdog made clear on Tuesday it had seen no sign of any explosion at one of Iran's most sensitive nuclear plants, backing up Tehran's denial of media reports that such an incident had taken place last week.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in an unusual move, made a brief statement after some Israeli and Western media at the weekend reported there had been significant damage at the underground Fordow uranium enrichment facility.

    The site is at the centre of Israeli and Western concerns about Iran's nuclear program as the Islamic state refines uranium there to a fissile concentration that takes it closer to potential atom bomb material. Iran denies any such aim.

    IAEA inspectors regularly visit Iranian nuclear sites, including the one at Fordow, and the U.N. agency suggested in its comment thatthey had been at the facility after the reports of an explosion there.

    "We understand that Iran has denied that there has been an incident at Fordow. This is consistent with our observations," IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said in an emailed statement in response to a question.

    The United States said on Monday it did not believe the reports of an explosion at Fordow, which is buried deep underground to protect it against any enemy attacks.

    Iran described the news stories as Western propaganda designed to influence upcoming nuclear negotiations.

    Wrangling over dates and location have delayed resumption of talks between global powers and Iran aimed at reaching a diplomatic settlement to the decade-old dispute over Tehran's nuclear program and avert the threat of a Middle East war.

    SABOTAGE ALLEGATIONS

    In late 2011, the plant at Fordow began producing uranium enriched to 20 percent fissile purity, compared with the 3.5 percent level needed for nuclear energy plants.

    This higher level of enrichment represents a significant step towards the fissile concentration that would be needed in any attempt to build atomic bombs.

    Iran says its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and aimed at producing electricity. It says it needs 20 percent uranium to fuel a medical research reactor in Tehran.

    Several U.N. Security Council resolutions have ordered Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment. The Islamic Republic says it is its "right" under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to refine uranium to produce reactor fuel.

    Iran has accused Israel and the United States of trying to sabotage its nuclear program through cyber attacks and the assassination of its nuclear scientists. Washington has denied any role in the killings, while Israel has declined to comment.

    No government has taken responsibility for the Stuxnet computer virus that destroyed centrifuges at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility in 2010, but it has been widely reported to have been a U.S.-Israeli project.

    Israel, believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed state, has hinted at possible military action against Iran if sanctions and diplomacy fail to resolve the nuclear stand-off.

    (Reporting by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

    55 comments

    • ImanYercrotch  •  3 days ago
      Further investigation concluded that Rosie Odonnel and Oprah had eaten at Iran's only taco bell, setting off the alarms.
    • David  •  3 days ago
      Fear sells.....
    • Rick  •  1 day 18 hrs ago
      Hey Obama - We're falling behind in production - Please send a few billion more by way of Egypt - Syria - Afghanistan and Iraq ! Thanks.......
    • L.  •  3 days ago
      And is this what they will do when they bomb somebody?
    • James  •  3 days ago
      and Monkey's can fly ...
    • ray  •  3 days ago
      This country is falling apart nothing is made here GMO food that nobody else will eat no high speed transportation roads and bridges crumbling Texas school books and the list go's on and on. Let's stay home and rebuild for a change.
    • A Yahoo! User  •  3 days ago
      bogus...if nothing happened the the Energy Commission must demand access as soon as possible..but they L I E. And state they inspect Fowdo... B S ...They never get out of Tehran... Why is everyone trying to make the world believe nothing happened? Because if Iran has destroyed its little toys..the fantasy of War would go away.. they region would be open for a whole new type of Propaganda..and war!
    • RichWall  •  3 days ago
      If this turns out to be knowingly false statement by the UN, that should mean the end of our involvement and support of the UN.
    • Rick  •  1 day 18 hrs ago
      Iran - after ya get that chit worked out - remember DC - NYC - LA !
    • Orland  •  3 days ago
      Oh ya, I forgot to say for all to use Google Earth with the Time Slide Bar to look at the Some Iran's Nuclear Power Plant, about 150 miles to the west and north, to see the 3 radiation fires burning for 3 + years that they do not want the IAEA to see let alone the world Fact !