'Neither Israel nor US in position to attack Iran'

Father of Iranian nuclear program Akhbar Etemad says he supports the Tehran regime's right to conduct nuclear research.

March 29, 2013 06:55
2 minute read.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei at NAM Summit.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei at NAM 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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"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 Thursday.

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 program.

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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.

"I had 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.

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Following the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini halted the nuclear program due to his suspicion of the US and its intentions.

"At the 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.

Despite refusing to return to Iran in order to head the nuclear program under Ayatollah Khamenei's rule, Etemad supports the Iranian regime's nuclear aspirations.

"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 percent.

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.

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