Israel: Iran Claims Validate Nuclear Threat

Israeli officials say an Iranian lawmakers claims Tehran could build a nuclear bomb proved something is rotten in Tehran

Gabe Kahn ,

A-Jad Nuclear Float
A-Jad Nuclear Float
Reuters

Israel on Saturday said recent claims by an Iranian lawmaker that Tehran could build a nuclear weapon if it chose to do so supported Jerusalem's view that Iran's nuclear program had a military dimension.

An Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity repeated Jerusalem's demands that Iran must stop enriching uranium, remove all military-grade enriched material from the country, and dismantle its Fordo nuclear research site.

The remarks were in response Iranian lawmaker Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam, who for the first time on Friday admitted Iran has the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

Moghadam told the parliament's news website, "Iran has the scientific and technological capability to produce [a] nuclear weapon, but will never choose this path."

The statement by Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam is the first time an Iranian politician has publicly stated that the country has the knowledge and skills to produce a nuclear weapon.

Moghadam said Iran could easily create the highly enriched uranium that is used to build atomic bombs, but it was not Tehran's policy to go down that route.

Tehran has previously denied its nuclear program has military dimensions, insisting it is solely for peaceful civilian purposes.

Moghadam's remarks seemed to validate charges in recent International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Tehran had sought - and continued to seek - nuclear technology of a military nature.

The IAEA has also sharply criticized Iran for systemically blocking nuclear inspectors from accessing its key enrichments sites in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Tehran is a signatory.

However, his remarks also fell in line with a recent conciliatory shift in Iranian rhetoric ahead of talks between the P5+1 and Iran on its nuclear program slated from April 13-14.

Early last month, a key advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei indicated Tehran was willing to back away from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's belligerent nuclear stance.

Mohammad Javad Larijani said the West should accept Iran's "peaceful nuclear program," sell Iran 20 percent enriched uranium, and provide the customary assistance nuclear nations provide to those building nuclear power plants.

In return for cooperation from the West Iran would offer "full transparency," Larijani said.

He did not say Iran would halt uranium enrichment – a key demand by Jerusalem and Washington to avoid military strikes – but observers say the stipulation that the West provide 20% enriched uranium indicates Iran is open to doing so.




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