Iran says reports it has nuclear weapons blueprints are baseless

Iran sought on Sunday to blunt potential international action over its contentious nuclear program, labeling as baseless a U.N. nuclear watchdog report that it had received blueprints for building the core of an atomic weapon.

The 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency meets on Thursday and could refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions. In a preparatory report, the U.N. agency found that Iran received the detailed designs from the network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program.

His network supplied Libya with information for its now-dismantled nuclear weapons program that included an engineer's drawing of an atomic bomb.

The document given to Iran in 1987 showed how to cast "enriched, natural and depleted uranium metal into hemispherical forms," said the confidential IAEA report.

"This is just a media speculation," said Hamid Reza Asefi, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman. "It is baseless."

The report on the blueprints was revealed to The Associated Press on Friday by IAEA diplomats, who requested anonymity in exchange for discussing the findings. Most board nations are concerned that Iran has resumed uranium conversion _ a precursor to enrichment _ and has refused to meet all IAEA requests about a nuclear program that was clandestine for nearly 20 years until discovered three years ago.

The United States insists Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons, while Iran maintains its program is strictly for generating electricity, AP reported. V.A.

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