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      Fordow Will Never be Shut Down, Says Iranian Lawmaker

      Iranian lawmaker rejects the Western proposal for Iran to close its Fordow nuclear facility in exchange for the relaxation of restrictions.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 2/18/2013, 3:15 AM

      Iranian workers standing in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant,
      Iranian workers standing in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant,
      AFP photo

      An Iranian lawmaker rejected on Sunday the Western proposal for Iran to close its Fordow nuclear facility in exchange for the relaxation of restrictions on the Islamic Republic.

      “The Fordow site will never be shut down,” the lawmaker, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said, according to a report in PressTV.

      “This proposal means helping the Zionist regime to carry out its threats and threaten our facilities. Although the Zionist regime would never dare to do so, we should not create conditions in the country to tempt the enemy,” he added.

      Boroujerdi was responding to reports on Friday that the West plans to offer to ease sanctions barring trade in gold and other precious metals with Iran in return for Iranian steps to shut down the Fordow uranium enrichment plant.

      The offer is reportedly to be presented to Iran at upcoming talks with world powers on February 26 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

      The underground Fordow facility is carved into a mountain to protect it against possible attacks.

      The existence of the facility near Qom only came to light after it was identified by Western intelligence agencies in September 2009. The UN’s nuclear watchdog has already confirmed that Iran begun enriching uranium at the plant.

      The West and Israel suspect the Islamic Republic is masking the development of a nuclear weapons capability under the guise of a program Iran insists is purely aimed at peaceful purposes.

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

      Decisions about Iran's disputed nuclear drive rest with Khamenei, who has issued a fatwa (Islamic religious ruling) declaring that possession of atomic weapons is a "sin" banned by religion.

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