Iran has the technological capability to produce nuclear weapons but will never do so, a prominent politician in the Islamic republic has said. The statement by Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam is the first time an Iranian politician has publicly said that the country has the knowledge and skills to produce a nuclear weapon.
Moghadam, whose views do not represent the government's policy, 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.
Moghadam told the parliament’s news website, icana.ir: “Iran has the scientific and technological capability to produce [a] nuclear weapon, but will never choose this path.”
The US and its allies believe Iran is using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover to develop nuclear weapons; a charge it denies. Israel said Moghadam's claim supported its view that Iran's nuclear programme had a military dimension.
An Israeli official repeated demands that Iran must stop enriching uranium, remove all military-grade enriched material from the country, and dismantle its Fordo nuclear research site.
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 and "useless, harmful and dangerous".
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that if Iran one day decides to build nuclear weapons, it will do so openly and without fear. Iran says it is enriching uranium to about 3.5% to produce nuclear fuel for its future reactors, and to around 20% to fuel a research reactor that produces medical isotopes to treat cancer.