Iran lawmaker: Country can make nuclear weapons
TEHRAN, Iran (KABC) -- A prominent Iranian lawmaker says Iran does have the capability of producing nuclear weapons but won't.
Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam is a parliamentarian not a government official and his views do not represent the Iranian government's policy. He says it's not Tehran's policy to go that route.
It's the first time a prominent Iranian politician has publicly stated that Iran has the technological capability to produce nuclear weapons.
Israeli officials say the claim is proof that Iran's nuclear program has a military dimension. The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charges, saying its program is peaceful and geared toward generating electricity and producing medical radioisotopes to treat cancer patients.
Moghadam's statement comes before planned talks beginning next week with the U.S. and other world powers over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
The White House did not comment on Moghadam's comments.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeatedly insisted that his country is not seeking nuclear weapons, saying that holding such arms is a sin as well as "useless, harmful and dangerous."
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also asserted that if Iran one day decides to build nuclear weapons, it will do so openly and won't fear anybody.
However, the U.N. nuclear agency has confirmed that centrifuges at the Fordo site near Iran's holy city of Qom are churning out uranium enriched to 20 percent, and says uranium enriched to that level can more quickly be turned into weapons-grade material.
Moghadam, the lawmaker, said that Iran has the means to produce 90-plus percent enrichment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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