Lawmaker: Iran will never halt nuclear program

AP News
Posted: Apr 07, 2013 11:14 AM

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A top Iranian lawmaker declared Sunday that Iran will never halt its nuclear development program, a day after the latest round of international talks failed to reach agreement on the issue.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi said the talks were "considered effective and a step forward," but he added, "the Islamic Republic of Iran will never stop uranium enrichment activities."

Boroujerdi, who heads a parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, said the talks should continue. He was quoted by the ISNA news agency.

Western powers are concerned that Iran may move toward production of nuclear weapons. Iran denies that, insisting that its program is peaceful.

World powers have repeatedly demanded that Iran close down its Fordo underground uranium enrichment plant that is enriching uranium up to 20 percent. Uranium that is enriched to 90 percent can be used in weapons.

The U.N. has enacted four rounds of economic sanctions against Iran to try to force it to curtail its program, but Iran has remained defiant.

"If one day the (Iranian) administration decides to close down Fordo, the parliament will oppose the decision, definitely," Boroujerdi was quoted as saying. He said Iran will continue reinforcing the plant because of foreign threats. Both the U.S. and Israel have hinted at military action against Iran's nuclear facilities if diplomacy fails.

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Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blamed the West for failure at the weekend talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan. "The talks showed that the West is not honest in its remarks," he told reporters.

He said Western powers cannot achieve progress "if they do not acknowledge Iran's natural rights" to enrich uranium.

Velayati is seen a leading candidate for June elections to pick a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The comments were the first by top Iranian officials after the talks Friday and Saturday between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.