Two Iranian ministers and 18 other members of the Iranian delegation that was slated to join Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the U.N. in New York next week have been denied entry visas, the Iranian Fars News Agency reported on Saturday.
Ahmadinejad, who is scheduled to speak on Sept. 25, has attended every U.N. General Assembly meeting since he took office in 2005. His final presidential term in Iran ends in 10 months.
Of the 160 visas requested by the Iranian government, 20 were denied, including those of two deputies of the President’s Chief of Staff, and two cabinet ministers. No reason was given, but Iranian officials are subject to travel bans as part of the sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, Reuters said.
Iran has repeatedly denied that its nuclear program is aimed at producing nuclear weapons, a charge that neither the U.S., nor an increasingly-vocal Israel, believes. On Saturday, Iranian lawmaker Alaeddin Boroujerdi accused German manufacturer Siemens of trying to sabotage several newly purchased parts needed for the nuclear program.
Boroujerdi told the AP that security experts discovered a series of tiny explosives implanted in the equipment and removed them, and he said that he believed authorities booby-trapped the equipment to derail the uranium enrichment process.
"The equipment was supposed to explode after being put to work, in order to dismantle all our systems," Boroujerdi said to the AP.
Siemens, naturally, denied the allegations, denying that it had any business with Iran in the first place. "Siemens rejects the allegations and stresses that we have no business ties to the Iranian nuclear program," Alexander Machowetz, a Siemens spokesman, told the AP.
Boroujerdi did not elaborate on from whom the equipment was actually purchased, but Germany has remained one of Iran’s biggest trading partners, despite American sanctions. As of 2008, approximately 50 German companies have branches in Iran, and 12,000 firms had representatives in the country, according to Payvand, a San Francisco-based Iran-centric news outlet.
The two incidents illustrate the fallout from multinational attempts to curb its nuclear activities. In a conference call with reporters earlier in September, Israeli nuclear scientist Ephraim Asculai said he believed Iran should not be underestimated.
"I think they are very competent technically," he said. "In the beginning, they weren't concerned with the passage of time, they wanted to do their job and get it right."
Now, of course, Asculai said, things have changed since the world found out about its nuclear program. "I imagine the world's efforts in preventing them from moving forward has had some effect," Asculai said. But, he added, it is only a matter of time before Iran reaches its presumptive goal of developing a weapon. "I estimate they would have an explosive device within a year."