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US unable to stop it if Iran wants the bomb: Khamenei
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Feb 16, 2013


Iran chides France over nuclear rights
Tehran (AFP) Feb 18, 2013 - Iran on Monday urged Paris to take "a correct approach based on reality," after the French defence minister stressed the need to prevent the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons.

"There is an erroneous belief held by some Western nations that if put under pressure Iran will give up its fundamental rights," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

"It would be better if the French government adopted a correct approach based on reality, instead of engaging in irrational behaviour and comments."

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Saturday there was a need to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, and said sanctions had been imposed in an effort to push it into serious negotiations.

"The progress of Iran's programme only adds to our concerns" about the unacceptable "possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear arms," Le Drian told the Gulf Defence Conference in Abu Dhabi across the Gulf from Iran.

The French minister said it was the responsibility of countries to ensure that Iran's suspect nuclear programme "fails" in order to guarantee security for all.

Sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union "appear to me to be the way to bring Iran to negotiate seriously," Le Drian added.

Mehmanparast reiterated Tehran's position that "Iran's nuclear programme is peaceful and transparent and (Tehran) has continuously and closely cooperated with the International Atomic Energy Agency," the UN nuclear watchdog.

Talks between Iran and the P5+1 group -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- will be held in the Kazakh city of Almaty on February 26 after an eight-month hiatus and failed meetings in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow.

The talks aim to address a key Western concern about Iran's capacity to enrich uranium to fissile purities of 20 percent, a process that can be used for peaceful atomic purposes as well as for making the core of a nuclear bomb.

Iran has no intention of developing nuclear weapons, but if it wanted to the United States could not thwart it, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday.

"We believe nuclear weapons must be abolished and we have no intention of building" such weaponry, Khamenei said in remarks posted on his website leader.ir.

But, Khamenei said, "if Iran had such intentions, the US could in no way prevent it" from making an atomic bomb.

The West and Israel suspect the Islamic republic is masking the development of an atomic weapons capability under the guise of a nuclear programme that Iran insists is purely peaceful.

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged Tehran to "recognise that now is the time for a diplomatic solution" to the nuclear stand-off.

"And we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon," Obama said.

Khamenei's remarks come less than two weeks before a major meeting in Almaty on February 26 between Iran and six world powers -- the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany -- seeking to curb its nuclear activities.

Decisions about the disputed nuclear drive rest with Khamenei, who has declared possession of atomic weapons a "sin" banned by religion.

On Saturday, Khamenei repeated that claim and said Iran's stance on weapons of mass destruction was not taken "because the US is unhappy, but because it is based on a religious belief that nuclear weapons are a crime against humanity."

He accused Washington of "deceit" in its approach towards the Iranian nuclear drive, saying: "They want to keep us from our legitimate rights of uranium enrichment and peaceful use of nuclear energy."

Provocative declarations on what Iran considers as a non-negotiable "right" to pursue a nuclear energy programme are not unprecedented.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said in 2012 that if Iran wanted to build the bomb, "it would not be afraid to announce" its decision to the world.

Tehran has spurned UN Security Council demands to abandon its uranium enrichment programme, a process that can be used for peaceful atomic purposes as well to make the core of a nuclear bomb.

The UN atomic watchdog, meanwhile, says "overall, credible" evidence exists that until 2003, and possibly since, Iran conducted nuclear weapons research despite its repeated denials.

Israel, the sole but undeclared nuclear state in the Middle East, and the United States have refused to rule out a military strike against Iran.

Tehran has warned against an attack on its nuclear facilities, but at the same time argues that its programme would not be stopped even if it was bombed.

Its defiance is also reflected in other key challenges to the Islamic regime, with Iranian officials regularly dismissing an economic and diplomatic embargo and asserting that such efforts fail to isolate the country.

Repeated declarations about how the Jewish state's days are numbered despite Western efforts to shore up Israel are also common in Tehran.

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