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Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, says Khamenei

Tehran, Feb 16, 2013, AP 23:15 IST
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that his country is not seeking nuclear weapons, but that no world power could stop Tehran’s access to an atomic bomb if it intended to build one.

Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, told a group of Iranians at his home in the Iranian capital, Tehran, that his country backs the elimination of nuclear weapons. “We believe that nuclear weapons must be eliminated. We don’t want to build atomic weapons. But if we didn’t believe so and intended to possess nuclear weapons, no power could stop us,” Khamenei said in comments posted on his website, khamenei.ir.

Iran recently has highlighted a religious decree Khamenei issued more than seven years ago that bans nuclear weapons in an effort to back up its claim that Tehran’s nuclear program is being used for peaceful purposes and medical research. Iran authorities often cite the decree to counter Western suspicions that Iran could ultimately make an atomic bomb.

Although Iran views Khamenei’s 2005 fatwa as a binding declaration, the West and its allies have repeatedly accused Iran of using any tactic to prolong the standoff to advance its nuclear capabilities. They want Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level that could be turned relatively quickly into a fissile core of nuclear arms.

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