Iran 'able to build nuclear weapon'


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The Independent Online

A prominent Iranian lawmaker has said Iran has the knowledge and scientific capability to produce nuclear weapons but will never do so.

Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam said Iran can easily produce the highly enriched uranium that is used to build atomic bombs but it is not Tehran's policy to do that.

He made the comment in an interview with the parliament's news website,, late yesterday.

His views do not represent the Iranian government's policy.

It is the first time that a prominent Iranian politician has publicly stated that Iran has the technological capability to produce a nuclear weapon.

The US and its allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeatedly insisted that his country is not seeking nuclear weapons, saying that holding such arms is a sin as well as "useless, harmful and dangerous".

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also asserted that if Iran one day decides to build nuclear weapons, it will do so openly and will not fear anybody.

Iran says it is enriching uranium to about 3.5% to produce nuclear fuel for its future reactors and also to around 20% to fuel a research reactor that produces medical isotopes to treat cancer. Uranium has to be enriched to more than 90% to be used for a nuclear weapon.

The UN nuclear agency has also confirmed that centrifuges at the Fordo site near Iran's holy city of Qom are churning out uranium enriched to 20 per cent, and says uranium enriched to that level can more quickly be turned into weapons-grade material.

Moghadam said that Iran has the means to produce 90 per cent enrichment.

"There is a possibility for Iran to easily achieve more than 90 per cent enrichment," quoted him as saying.