Former Iranian MP confirms Tehran seeks nuclear weapons

Remarks by former deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament contradict Tehran’s longstanding insistence that its nuclear program is peaceful.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

A former Iranian lawmaker confirmed on Sunday that Iran has sought to produce nuclear weapons, according to the Iran-based Iran Student Correspondents Association (Iscanews).

The remarks by Ali Motahari, former deputy speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, contradict long-standing Iranian insistence that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.

“From the very beginning, when we entered the nuclear activity, our goal was to build a bomb and strengthen the deterrent forces, but we could not maintain the secrecy of this issue,” Motahari told Iscanews.

He said that countries seeking truly peaceful atomic programs focus on building reactors before starting to enrich uranium.

“To do enrichment directly creates the illusion that we want to make a bomb,” Motahari told ISCA.

“If we, like Pakistan, could secretly make and test bombs, it would be very deterrent,” Motahari said. “When we started something, we should have seen it to the end.”

According to Motahari, a fatwa, or religious ruling issued by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, only forbids the use of nuclear weapons but not their creation.

Motahari left politics in 2019 and now teaches at the University of Tehran.

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Responding to Motahari’s comments, the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization denied it was seeking nuclear weapons.

“The peaceful nuclear program of the Islamic Republic of Iran has never had a military orientation,” an IAEO official told Iscanews, adding that statements to the contrary have been made by “irresponsible people.”

“Charging our country with accusations of secrecy in nuclear activities is an action that the enemy has been pursuing for years to limit our peaceful nuclear program and has never been able to prove it,” he said.

Motahari’s comments come amid a Washington Post report on Thursday in which leading nuclear nonproliferation experts warned that Iran is only one or two weeks away from having a sufficient amount of enriched uranium to fuel an atomic bomb.

The controversial Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) of 2015 promised Iran economic incentives in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. Former president Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement in 2018.

Negotiating a return to the nuclear agreement has long been a key foreign policy goal of U.S. President Joe Biden, but international negotiations in Vienna have dimmed in recent weeks.

While uranium needs to be only 3.67 percent pure to generate nuclear power, Iran has enriched its uranium stockpile to 60%, a degree of purity that no country without an atomic weapon has pursued. A nuclear bomb requires uranium to be enriched to 90% purity.

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Israel, the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia oppose an American return to the JCPOA agreement.