Iran dismisses alleged nuclear bomb trigger tests as U.S. ‘forgery’
The Iranian President added that the criticism of his country’s nuclear programme had become “a repetitive and tasteless joke”.
Also, in a report by Associated Press (AP), Ahmadinejad dismissed a year-end deadline set by the Obama administration for Tehran to accept a UN-drafted deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel.
The deal aims to diminish Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium, easing the West’s fears that the material could be used to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran, which denies it seeks to build a bomb, has balked at the deal’s terms.
Speaking to supporters in the southern city of Shiraz, he said: “If Iran wanted to make a bomb, we would be brave enough to tell you.” He said the West “can give Iran as many deadlines as they want, we don’t care.” He lashed out at Washington, saying Iran won’t allow the U.S. to dominate the region.
However, Iran denies claims it wants to build atomic weapons, saying its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes.
The BBC added that the interview Ahmadinejad granted the U.S.-based TV offered a rare opportunity to see an Iranian leader being questioned by an American media.
But the agency’s reports indicated that Ahmadinejad’s answers gave little indication that his administration is moving towards a more conciliatory position.
The Times reported last week that it had obtained a document, dating from 2007, describing a four-year plan by Iran to test a nuclear trigger using uranium deuteride.
The product can be used as a neutron initiator: The component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion.
The memo apparently details how some work on the trigger should be outsourced to universities, but other work is too secret and must be carried out by “trustworthy personnel” within the organisation allegedly carrying out Iran’s secret nuclear weapons research.
Another document seen by the Times is said to be a memo from Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, naming him as the chairman of the Field for the Expansion of Deployment of Advance Technology (Fedat), which the newspaper said is a cover for a secret nuclear weapons programme.
In his first public response to the report, Ahmadinejad said the accusations were “fundamentally not true”.
When asked if there would “be no nuclear weapon in Iran, ever”, he said his view was already known.
“You should say something only once. We have said once that we don’t want a nuclear bomb. We don’t accept it.”
A senior adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama, David Axelrod, said it was “nonsense” that the America had fabricated the documents. “Nobody has any illusions about what the intent of the Iranian government is,” he told ABC.
Iran is already subject to three sets of UN sanctions for its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment programme.
But Iran is at risk of further sanctions after it rejected a deal to send low-enriched uranium abroad to be refined into fuel for a research reactor.
A defiant Ahmadinejad said Iran would welcome talks “under fair conditions”.
“We don’t welcome confrontation, but we don’t surrender to bullying either,” he said. “If you are saying you are going to impose sanctions, then go and do it,” he added.
Ahmadinejad also rejected criticism of Iran’s human rights situation and allegations of mass arrests following the elections, which returned him to office in June. “These things have to do with the judiciary. We have good laws. There is the judge. These people have got lawyers. These are not political questions.”
He said people in Iran had more freedom than in the U.S.
The ABC interview took place before the latest protests held at the funeral of the influential dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri.
Iran said its uranium enrichment programme is for purely peaceful purposes, aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more gas and oil. But the U.S. and its allies say it could be used to develop weapons.