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article imageKhamenei claims Iran is not interested in nuclear weapons

By Michael Bearak     Feb 20, 2010 in World
A day after a U.N. watchdog report was released that stated they believed that Iran was working towards a nuclear weapon, the supreme leader of Iran refuted the report.
The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran issued a statement on Friday that the republic is not trying to develop an nuclear weapon. Khamenei's statement comes on the heals of a draft of the report from a U.N. watchdog group that reported that they felt Iran was in the process of working on a nuclear weapon.
According to the ayatollah's statement, "Iran will not get emotional in its response to these nonsensical statements, because we have often said that our religious tenets and beliefs consider these kinds of weapons of mass destruction to be symbols of genocide and are, therefore, forbidden and considered to be haram (religiously banned)." He continued by saying, "This is why we do not believe in atomic bombs and weapons and do not seek them."
There has been a building tension between Iran and the West over the country's nuclear program. The fear of hte United States and their allies has been that Iran is developing their nuclear program in order to make a nuclear weapon. Iran contends that they are enriching uranium and developing a nuclear program for civilian energy as well as medical use.
All of this comes a week after Khamenei threatened that Iran would deliver a punch that would "shock the West." That was set for the 22nd of Bahman or February 11th.
According to Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley in regards to the facility at Qom, "There is no explanation for that facility that is consistent with the needs of a civilian nuclear program," he said. "And it characterizes the way in which Iran has conducted its... relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its failure to satisfactorily explain, you know, what its activities and ambitions are in the nuclear sphere."
David Albright, a former IAEA weapons inspector, told CNN that Iran's behavior, "has to make you worry more about a [potential] conflict."
According to a BBC report, uranium only needs to be enriched to 3.5 percent. Still, Iran has been pushing to enrich uranium to 20 perscent for their medical research reactor. Still, according to that BBC article enriching uranium to 20 percent is a major step in trying to develop a nuclear weapon.
The British Foreign Office released a statement, "This most recent report notes that as well as ignoring the requests for information about possible military dimension of their programme, Iran built a secret enrichment plant in Qom, and Iran enriched uranium up to 20% despite the [IAEA] telling them not to do so."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated the BFO's sentiment in a radio interview: "We are very alarmed and we cannot accept this, that Iran is refusing to co-operate with the IAEA."
Iran's president, Ahmadinejad warned the United States' and their allies not to push for tougher sanctions against Iran. Ahmadinejad said that they would continue to enrich uranium to as high as 20 percent, if they choose.
United States' Vice President Joseph Biden was quoted as saying that nuclear weapons are the biggest threat facing not only the United States but all of humanity and because of that everyone needs to work towards proliferation.
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