Alaeddin Boroujerdi
Alaeddin BoroujerdiReuters

A prominent Iranian lawmaker said on Sunday that Iran would never agree to shut down its underground nuclear enrichment facility in Fordow as demanded by world powers, AFP reports.

"It is possible that they set some conditions such as shutting down Fordow, which definitely will not happen," Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the parliament's foreign policy committee, was quoted as saying. The comments were carried by the Iranian Mehr news agency.

Fordow, with nearly 3,000 centrifuges and dug deep into a mountain near the city of Qom, some 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of Tehran, is at the heart of international concerns over Iran's nuclear drive.

The site, whose existence was revealed in 2009, began in late 2011 to enrich uranium to purities of 20 percent, a few technical steps away from the 90-percent level needed for a nuclear weapon.

Iran says it is enriching to this level to provide fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces medical isotopes, and denies seeking or ever having sought nuclear weapons.

The underground site is now believed to be "virtually indestructible," though U.S. officials said several months ago that the Pentagon had redesigned its biggest "bunker buster" bomb with more advanced features intended to enable it to destroy Fordow.

Closing Fordow or limiting enrichment activities has been a key demand by six world powers - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - in negotiations with Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

In return, the powers are offering to ease some sanctions against the Islamic Republic, such as those imposed on trade in gold and on the petrochemical sector.

Israel and, to a lesser degree the United States, have refused to rule out military action against Iran should it continue its nuclear enrichment program.

However, Boroujerdi warned against any military action, saying Iran was prepared to deter any foreign attack.

"We have created the conditions for America and the Zionist regime in a way that they will never think of attacking our nuclear sites. Our missiles are a deterrent ... but Fordow is one of our red lines," he said without elaborating, according to AFP.

The German weekly Der Spiegel reported in September that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is willing to dismantle the nuclear facility in Fordow.

Iran later denied the report, with the head of its Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, saying it was “a sheer lie.”

Since becoming president in August, Rouhani, seen as a relative moderate, has raised hopes that the long-running crisis can be resolved and threats of military action silenced for good.