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Iran: Seismic Station in Turkmenistan Built for 'Spying'

VOA News 09 December 2009

An Iranian official has criticized the building of a seismic monitoring station in neighboring Turkmenistan, saying the facility is designed to spy on Iran's nuclear program.

Senior diplomat Abolfazl Zohrehvand said Wednesday the international treaty that permits construction of seismic observatories is, in his words, an "espionage" treaty.

The monitoring station in Turkmenistan was built by the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which announced the facility's completion last week.

Zohrehvand accused the independent world body of planning to set up other stations in the region to monitor Iran.

Iran is a member of that organization and agreed in the past to allow seismic monitoring stations to be built on its territory.

An organization spokeswoman (Annika Thunborg) said its global network of sensors is designed to monitor nuclear explosions worldwide, not in particular countries.

She said the decision to build the Turkmenistan monitoring station was made in the mid-1990s with Iranian involvement.

Western nations have accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program -- a charge Iran denies.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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