Iranian nuclear agency head says program's development unhindered by deal

Salehi says Iranian scientists are not worried about being assassinated since it means “martyrdom” and claims didn’t hold back nuclear program

August 13, 2015 22:06
1 minute read.
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A group of Orthodox Jewish protesters who support the Iran deal gathered in New York to protest against another group of anti-Iran deal protesters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Tehran made no major concessions in its nuclear negotiation with world powers, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on Thursday.

In 10 years, “we will have two other nuclear power reactors added to Bushehr,” he said.

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“But using [the permitted] centrifuges, in 15 years we will be in a position to meet the fuel requirements of these reactors,” he said in an interview in Tehran on Thursday with Iranian state news agency IRNA.

Salehi admitted, however, that the program was slowed down as a result of the accord reached on July 14, saying, “Neither side got the ideal it was looking for. We met in the middle.”

Asked about the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists in recent years and if the current scientists “feel nervous about working with counterparts from overseas, Salehi responded: “No. We have a very peculiar characteristic of our nation. Being Muslims, we are ready for any kind of destiny, because we do not look upon it like you have lost your life. Okay, but you have gained martyrdom, and we believe in eternity.”

Authorities in Tehran have accused Israel and its Western allies of carrying out a series of killings of Iranian nuclear scientists since 2007.

Framed pictures of the five nuclear scientists allegedly assassinated over the past decade hang in Salehi’s office.

“For our people, it’s easy to absorb such things. I mean, this did not really turn into an impediment to our nuclear activities,” he asserted.

“In fact, it gave an impetus to the field, in the sense that after [the deaths], many students who were studying in other fields changed to nuclear science.”

Questioned if the assassinations were “inspiring,” Salehi replied, “Yes. They thought they would terrorize the scientific community in Iran, by threatening us, we will step back from that path – but we did not.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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