Iran Nuclear NewsRafsanjani: U.S. Can't Stop Iran's Atomic Ambitions

Rafsanjani: U.S. Can’t Stop Iran’s Atomic Ambitions

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Reuters: Washington will not stop Iran pursuing nuclear technology and should not attempt a military “adventure” in the country, an influential cleric said on Friday. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has exhorted Iran to give up what she says is a nuclear weapons program. U.S. officials have stressed diplomacy but not ruled out an attack against atomic sites, which Iran insists are to meet booming demand for electricity. Reuters

TEHRAN – Washington will not stop Iran pursuing nuclear technology and should not attempt a military “adventure” in the country, an influential cleric said on Friday.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has exhorted Iran to give up what she says is a nuclear weapons program.

U.S. officials have stressed diplomacy but not ruled out an attack against atomic sites, which Iran insists are to meet booming demand for electricity.

“The Persian Gulf is not a region where they can have fireworks and Iran is not a country where they can come for an adventure,” cleric and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told worshippers at Friday prayers.

“It is not acceptable that developed countries generate 70 or 80 percent of their electricity from nuclear energy and tell Iran, a great and powerful nation, that it cannot have nuclear electricity. Iran does not accept this,” he added.

Although France produces close to 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power stations, most major industrialized nations derive under 30 percent, U.S. Energy Information Administration data says.

Rafsanjani is often hailed by analysts as a pragmatist who wants to restore diplomatic relations with the United States.

However, Iran’s right to produce its own nuclear fuel from uranium mined in the central deserts is a subject that unites politicians across the conservative and reformist camps.

Talks with France, Britain and Germany have aimed to persuade oil-rich Iran to drop its fuel making program in return for economic incentives.

Rafsanjani reiterated Iran could not give up uranium enrichment, a key process in making nuclear fuel, but could work out a diplomatic solution by offering further assurances the fuel was not being diverted to bombs.

“This confidence has to be built in the next few months. When this period this is over, we will, God willing, continue enrichment and nuclear technology,” he added, stressing Iran’s co-operation with the U.N. atomic watchdog.

Iran suspended uranium enrichment in November as a goodwill gesture in the run-up to the talks with EU nations, but said the suspension would be a matter of months rather than years.

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