The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) rejected Thursday an Iranian lawmaker's remarks that the organisation will build a new nuclear plant in the central province of Isfahan, local satellitechannel Press TV reported.
"Reports published by some news agencies on the construction of a new nuclear plant in the country are not true and are, hereby, denied," an AEOI statement said.
Earlier on Thursday, the local Fars news agency quoted Iranian lawmaker Avaz Heidarpour saying that the country planned to build a new nuclear facility in the central province of Isfahan for civil purposes.
"It will be located in Isfahan province, and will be launched in three years," Heidarpour was quoted as saying.
Recently, comments on Iran's diplomatic issues made by a number of Iranian hardliner lawmakers were later dismissed by the government.
On Tuesday, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast denied the earlier remarks of Iranian lawmaker, Parviz Sorouri, that Iran would hold war games in the Strait of Hormuz in the near future for closing it.
Mehmanparast said that "As Iran has announced several times, the issue of closing the Strait of Hormuz is not on Iran's agenda since Iran believes in upholding the stability and peace of the region."
Meanwhile, on Friday South Korea joined a fresh multinational effort to press Iran to scrap its suspected nuclear weapons programme, adding more than 100 names to a financial blacklist of Iranian firms and individuals.
The measures announced by the finance ministry did not include a ban on imports of petrochemicals or crude oil, in what one analyst saw as an attempt to protect its economic ties with the Middle Eastern nation.
The ministry said it has added 99 Iranian firms and six individuals to 24 individuals and 102 Iranian entities blacklisted by Seoul in September last year.
Those on the blacklist will require approval from South Korea's central bank before conducting any foreign currency transactions.
The ministry said it would alert domestic companies importing petrochemicals of the risks they face because of US sanctions.
Britain, Canada and the United States slapped sanctions last month on Iran's financial, petrochemical and energy sectors following a UN nuclear agency report that strongly suggested Tehran is researching atomic weapons.
Robert Einhorn, the US State Department's special adviser for non-proliferation, visited Seoul last week and said US allies should ban petrochemical imports from Iran.
But he ruled out a need for Seoul to halt imports of Iranian crude, which make up 8.3 per cent of its total needs.
The US is South Korea's key ally and stations 28,500 troops in the country to protect it from North Korea. But Iran is one of the South's top trade partners in the Middle East.
Any reduction or halt in Iranian crude imports would likely disrupt the Korean economy and complicate its efforts to hold down inflation.
Samsung Economic Research Institute analyst Bahng Tae-Seop said South Korea apparently took milder steps than anticipated due to its trade with Iran.
"Compared to the sanctions imposed last year, today's additional measures are not seen as strong pressure on Iran," he told AFP.
"South Korea is not taking the lead in imposing sanctions due to its economic ties with Iran," Bahng said, adding it would watch the international trend and try to protect its interests through diplomacy.
In addition to the initial blacklist, South Korea last year strengthened inspection of cargoes related to Iran, restricted new investment in its oil and gas industry and reduced export guarantees for shipments there.
In October 2010 it suspended the operations of Iran's Bank Mellat for two months for violating laws on foreign exchange transactions.
Iran also escalated its confrontation with the United States on Thursday over the captured US spy drone launched from Afghanistan, warning the Afghan government to order a halt to such surveillance flights.
Any further flights would be regarded as a hostile act, the Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, said in an interview with Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency. His warning threatened to drag Afghanistan directly into the dispute over American aerial surveillance of Iran.
There was no immediate response from the United States or Afghanistan to Mr. Salehi’s admonition. But Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, visiting with Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, in Kabul on Wednesday, said that surveillance flights over Iran would continue despite the loss of the drone. Mr. Karzai was more circumspect, saying Afghanistan wanted “the best of relations” with all its neighbors.
The increased covert American intelligence operations reflect suspicions in the West and in Israel that the Iranian military is secretly working on a nuclear weapon, despite Iran’s denials. The concerns grew last month with the release of an incriminating report about questionable aspects of Iran’s nuclear programme by the International Atomic Energy Agency.