Iran not seeking nuclear weapons
PARIS: Iran’s supreme leader told Europe on Thursday the Islamic Republic was not seeking to build a nuclear arsenal, but vowed the country would not abandon its “absolute right” to acquire nuclear know-how.
The statement, released by the Iranian embassy in Paris, came almost a week after the UN nuclear watchdog sharply rebuked Iran for failing to cooperate fully with its inspectors and concerns Tehran may be hiding an atomic site. “We assure European countries Iran is not searching for nuclear weapons but we will never abandon nuclear technology and the mastery of this science,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s ultimate authority, said in the statement.
France, Britain and Germany persuaded Iran in October to suspend uranium enrichment and to sign up to snap inspections of nuclear sites. Since then, Tehran has released information via its Paris embassy several times. The 25-nation European Union has suspended talks on a trade and aid pact with Tehran pending a satisfactory outcome to the standoff over its nuclear programmeme, which the United States says is a front for efforts to build atomic weapons.
In October, Iran submitted a declaration on its nuclear programmeme that Tehran said was complete. But it left out information on sensitive items such as an advanced “P2” centrifuge, capable of making bomb-grade uranium.
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), described the omission as a “great setback”. The IAEA resolution on Iran also urged Tehran “voluntarily to reconsider” plans to operate a heavy-water research reactor. In his statement, Khamenei said his country wanted to develop nuclear energy for purely peaceful purposes and that it was Tehran’s “absolute right to do so”. reuters