Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei at NAM 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
"Neither Israel or the US are in a position to attack Iran," the father
of the Iranian nuclear program Akhbar Etemad told BBC in an interview on
Etemad, now in his 80s, ran the Iranian nuclear
program, that started during the Shah's regime after pressure from the
US, between 1974 and 1978. He left the country when the nuclear program
was stopped by Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the 1979 Iranian revolution, and refused to return
when his successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei decided to resume the
The original goal of the Iranian nuclear program was to
build nuclear power plants in order to produce 23,000 megawatts of
electrical power. Etemad says the US, that was initially supportive of
the program, soon started to impose conditions on Tehran.
the impression that the Americans wanted to impose their views on Iran
and I refused to deal with them. We were discussing for four years the
terms of the bilateral agreement and we never came to a conclusion," he
told Zubeida Malik on BBC's "Today" program.
the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini halted the nuclear program
due to his suspicion of the US and its intentions.
beginning the revolutionaries thought that nuclear technology [was] one
of the tactics of the US to put [a] hand on Iran. Later on they realized
it was a successful program and they had to continue it," Eteman said.
refusing to return to Iran in order to head the nuclear program under
Ayatollah Khamenei's rule, Etemad supports the Iranian regime's nuclear
"I think Iran has the right to do the research that
they are doing and I don't see why the Western countries impose
sanctions against Iran," he said.
Iran maintains it has the right
to enrich uranium, both for nuclear power plants and for making medical
isotopes which requires fuel enriched to a fissile purity of 20
But the US and its allies are concerned that 20-percent
purity is a major step towards producing weapons-grade uranium and that
Tehran is covertly developing weapons capability, accusations Iran
denies. Reuters contributed to this report.