Iran on Wednesday accused Israel of assassinating its nuclear scientists as part of a “war game” while it denied any role in attacks on Israeli diplomatic targets in several countries.
A letter sent by Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, to the U.N. Security Council said Israel has been allowed to commit crimes against others with “impunity.”
Israel has blamed Iran for a car bomb last week which critically injured an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi.
Georgian officials defused a second device in Tbilisi, while a suspected Iranian bomber had his legs blown off as he hurled a grenade at Thai police.
A number of arrests of people with alleged links to Iranian intelligence have reportedly been made in Azerbaijan.
Iran has in turn accused Israel of financing and training militant groups which it says have killed a number of Iranian nuclear scientists. As tensions rise over Tehran’s nuclear program, there is mounting speculation that Israel plans a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Khazaee said Israel had made “unfounded allegations and distortions” against his country over the recent attacks and bombings.
Iran “categorically rejects the allegations concerning any involvement of its officials or organs whatsoever in alleged recent terrorist operations against Israeli targets in a number of countries, namely Thailand, India, Georgia or Azerbaijan,” the envoy’s letter said.
Iran has “suffered from terrorist acts including assassinations of her nuclear scientists due to the tacit and explicit support extended by the Israeli regime to terrorist groups,” Khazaee added.
“These operations, as well as attributing the violent acts, are part of the general war game waged by this regime against Iran.”
The envoy added that Israel had carried out “covert operations, cyber warfare, psychological war and assassination of nuclear scientists,” as well as threatening military strikes on Iran.
“Regrettably, the impunity with which the (Israeli) regime has been allowed to carry out its crimes thus far, has emboldened it to continue and even increase its blatant defiance of the most basic and fundamental principles of international law and the United Nations Charter,” the letter said.
Western nations accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, while Iran insists its nuclear enrichment program is entirely peaceful.
Failed IAEA’s visit heightens tensions
Meanwhile, a fruitless visit to Iran by U.N. nuclear inspectors raised tensions on Wednesday, with Russia warning of “catastrophic” consequences if it leads to a military attack on its Middle East ally.
France said Iran’s refusal to allow the inspectors to see a key military site used for suspected atomic weapons research was a “missed opportunity” that could undermine chances of reviving wider talks between Tehran and world powers.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was defiant, however.
He made no mention at all of the failed bid by the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors. Instead he reiterated the assertion that “the Iranian nation has never been seeking an atomic weapon and never will be.”
Possessing a nuclear bomb, he said, “constitutes a major sin,” he told a group of nuclear scientists.
But nuclear energy, he said, “is in Iran’s national interest.”
Khamenei added: “Pressure, sanctions, threats and assassinations will not bear any fruit and Iran will continue its path of (nuclear) scientific development.”
The IAEA said it had gone into the two-day visit to Tehran ̶ and a previous, inconclusive one last month ̶ in a “constructive spirit,” but that no agreement had been reached on efforts to elucidate Iran's nuclear activities.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said the Iranian’s refusal to allow the Parchin inspection was “disappointing.”
The IAEA said that “at this point in time” there was no agreement with Iran on holding further talks.
A Western diplomat in Vienna said that Iran’s decision on Parchin showed why the international community “lacks confidence in the nature of its nuclear program.”
“This latest snub, along with its decision to begin enrichment at Qom, underscore Iran’s defiance of the international community and multiple Security Council resolutions,” said the diplomat.
The IAEA trip was seen as having an impact on the mooted resumption of talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers ̶ Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany ̶ which broke down 13 months ago.
France said Iran’s “refusal to cooperate” was “another missed opportunity” that added to a standoff already aggravated by the Islamic republic's recent boasts of nuclear progress.
“We cannot but consider all of this contrary to the intentions” declared by Iran to resume negotiations with the P5+1, said a spokesman.
Oliver Thraenert, an analyst with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said the IAEA visit “shows clearly that Iran is not in the mood for substantial compromise.”
“The chances now of a return to negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 are not very high. It leaves matters in a deadlock.”
Already talk of possible military action against Iran by Israel, with or without U.S. help, had been giving urgency to diplomatic attempts to lower tensions.
Russia, which along with China has been giving Iran diplomatic cover, warned against that prospect.
“The scenario of military action against Iran would be catastrophic for the region and possibly the whole system of international relations,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.
He urged nations to wait for the IAEA’s official report before deciding to condemn Iran for failing to cooperate.
The United States and Europe have been ramping up economic sanctions on Iran since November, when the IAEA published a report crystallizing ̶ though not entirely validating ̶ Western suspicions it was pursuing nuclear weapons research in Parchin and elsewhere.
The measures, targeting vital oil exports, added to four sets of non-economic U.N. sanctions punishing Iran for not giving timely explanations of its activities.
Iran has repeatedly said the sanctions will not deter it from its nuclear ambitions, and it has threatened to strike back at any military action, possibly by closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
This week, it deployed warplanes, missiles and radar facilities in exercises to boost the defenses of its nuclear facilities.
Iran “does not seek war and has never started a war, but it will vigorously defend its national interests,” Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said.
Iran has also announced a halt to the limited amount of oil it exported to Britain and France in retaliation for an EU embargo on its oil due to come fully into effect in July.
On Tuesday, the government threatened to cut supplies to other EU nations if they did not stop their “hostile” policies.