A prominent Iranian lawmaker said Iran has the knowledge and scientific capability to produce nuclear weapons but will never do so.
Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam said Iran can easily produce the highly enriched uranium that is used to build atomic bombs but it is not Tehran's policy to go that route.
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Moghadam made the comment in an interview with the parliament's news website, icana.ir, late Friday ahead of National Nuclear Technology Day, which the Islamic Republic will mark on Sunday. His views do not represent the Iranian government's policy. It is the first time that a prominent Iranian politician has publicly stated that Iran has the technological capability to produce a nuclear weapon.
The US and its allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeatedly insisted that his country is not seeking nuclear weapons, saying that holding such arms is a sin as well as “useless, harmful and dangerous.”
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also asserted that if Iran one day decides to build nuclear weapons, it will do so openly and won’t fear anybody.
Iran says it is enriching uranium to about 3.5% to produce nuclear fuel for its future reactors and also to around 20% to fuel a research reactor that produces medical isotopes to treat cancer treatment. Uranium has to be enriched to more than 90% to be used for a nuclear weapon.
The UN nuclear agency has also confirmed that centrifuges at the Fordo site near Iran’s holy city of Qom are churning out uranium enriched to 20%, and says uranium enriched to that level can more quickly be turned into weapons-grade material.
Moghadam said, “There is a possibility for Iran to easily achieve more than 90% enrichment."
According to the lawmaker, should Iran halt its nuclear program, the West would shift its pressure on Iran "to issues such as human rights."
Speaking ahead of next week's negotiations between Iran and the six world powers, Moghadam said "just as the leader (Khamenei) stated many times before, this route does not exist in the doctrine of the Islamic Republic's holy regime, and the production, possession and use of nuclear weapons go against Islam's holy laws."
Reuters, AP contributed to the report
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