'Iran ready to help Turkey with nuclear plant'

Turkey has been trying for years to build nuclear power plant, but no Western nations would help build it, Iran official says.

By REUTERS
November 15, 2011 20:23
3 minute read.
Bushehr nuclear power plant

Bushehr nuclear power plant_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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NEW YORK - A senior Iranian official said on Tuesday that Tehran was willing to share its controversial nuclear technology with neighboring countries, suggesting it could help Turkey build an atomic power plant.

The United States, European Union and their allies suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons and, along with the UN Security Council, have imposed sanctions to try to stop it from enriching uranium. But Tehran says its nuclear program is to generate electric power and refuses to halt it.

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"Iran developed a very sophisticated nuclear science and technological capability, which we are quite ready to share with ... neighboring countries and friendly countries in the region," the official, Mohammad Javad Larijani, said.

"Turkey is for years trying to have a nuclear power plant but no country in the West is willing to build that for them," Larijani told reporters. "This is true for our Arab (neighbors) in the region."

"We are ready to cooperate with them in this regard, while within the NPT." He was referring to the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to prevent the spread of atomic weapons technology.

"This is an avenue that we are going to open," he said, adding that Iran was also willing to cooperate in the nuclear field with Brazil.

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"In some areas Brazil is ahead of us, in some areas we are ahead of Brazil," he said. "So we can cooperate as well."

Both Turkey and Brazil voted against a fourth round of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program in June 2010.

Turkey has ambitious plans to build up a civil nuclear production capability and has been in talks with Russia and Japan about it. Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is is among the firms interested in a Turkish deal.

Last year Turkey awarded Russia's Atomstroyexport a contract for the country's first nuclear power plant at Akkuyu on the country's Mediterranean coast.

Larijani is head of the Iranian High Council for Human Rights, an adviser to Iran's chief justice, and head of a mathematics and physics institute. He is also the brother of parliament speaker Ali Larijani.

He is in New York ahead of a planned vote by the UN General Assembly's human rights committee on a resolution condemning the human rights situation in Iran.

Larijani's comments on the nuclear issue came a week after the UN atomic watchdog issued a report saying Iran appeared to have worked on designing a nuclear weapon.

Larijani described the International Atomic Energy Agency's report as "a disgrace to the professionalism of this institution."

He made clear, however, that Tehran's position on the crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators in Syria, Iran's principal Arab ally, was very different from Turkey's. Ankara has sharply condemned the crackdown, which began in March and has killed over 3,500 civilians according to UN figures.

"The best way is to leave the Syria affair to the Syrian people themselves," he said. "We are against international meddling in this affair."

He accused the United States and other Western countries of supporting the opposition in Syria with weapons, an accusation that Damascus has also hurled at Washington and its allies.

Larijani rejected Saudi accusations that Iran was fomenting unrest in Bahrain and reiterated Tehran's denial of US and Saudi allegations last month that Tehran was behind an alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

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