, TEHRAN, Jun 28 – Iran on Monday accused the US Central Intelligence Agency of waging psychological warfare against it through "fake reports," saying the CIA knows Tehran\’s nuclear programme has no military aims.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast dismissed CIA director Leon Panetta\’s comments that Iran could have nuclear weapons ready to use by as early as 2012.
"Such remarks fall within the framework of psychological warfare aimed at creating a negative perception about Iran\’s peaceful nuclear activities," Mehmanparast told state news agency IRNA.
"The American officials, especially their intelligence apparatus, know that Iran\’s nuclear programme is in no way a military one but is aimed at peaceful purposes," he said.
"Those who bring up such fake reports seek to deflect world public opinion from the main concern… the nuclear arsenals of several countries and a certain regime," he said in apparent reference to Iran\’s arch-foe Israel.
Speaking on ABC network\’s "This Week" programme, Panetta on Sunday said that Iran has manufactured enough low-enriched uranium for two atomic weapons.
He said Tehran would need a year to enrich it fully to produce a bomb, and that it would take "another year to develop the kind of weapon delivery system in order to make that viable."
"There is a continuing debate right now about whether or not they ought to proceed with a bomb. But they clearly are developing their nuclear capability and that raises concerns," Panetta said.
Western powers led by Washington suspect that Iran is masking a weapons drive under what Tehran says is a civilian atomic programme.
On June 9, the United Nations Security Council imposed a fourth set of sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt sensitive uranium enrichment work.
The UN sanctions were followed by unilateral US and EU measures targeting Iran\’s energy sector and its banking industry.
Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have dismissed the sanctions and vowed to continue with the country\’s nuclear programme.
Neither the United States nor its top regional ally Israel, the sole if undeclared nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, have ruled out a military strike to scupper Iran\’s atomic drive.
"Israel is very concerned about what\’s happening in Iran," Panetta noted.
"We continue to share intelligence (with Israel) as to what exactly is Iran\’s capacity," he told ABC, adding that Israel feels "more strongly that Iran has already made the decision to proceed with the bomb, but at the same time they know that sanctions will have an impact."
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has expressed concern over Panetta\’s remarks.
"This information has to be checked but such information is always worrying and all the more so because the international community does not recognise the Iranian nuclear programme as transparent," he told reporters on Sunday in Toronto.
"If this is proved, it would make the situation even more tense," Medvedev said, adding that Russia might have to re-examine its position on the matter.
Russia, which unlike the United States has diplomatic ties with Iran, has in the past been reluctant to impose tough sanctions but backed the latest UN move following Tehran\’s repeated defiance of orders to halt uranium enrichment.
At the G8 meeting world leaders urged Iran to hold a "transparent dialogue" over its nuclear programme.
Later on Monday Ahmadinejad is expected to unveil his conditions for talks.
But in a remark directed at the G8, an angry parliament speaker Ali Larijani said: "You will take the wish to stop Iran\’s nuclear activities to the grave," Fars news agency reported.