Ex-president: Talks will prove Iran has no secret military projects

Talks with the West to resolve the nuclear dispute will eventually prove that Iran has no secret military programmes, Iran's former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said Friday.

   "I say it once again: We have no plans to pursue any military programmes in our nuclear projects and are ready to prove this to the West," Rafsanjani said at the Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran, reported dpa.

   Iran maintains that as signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the legitimate right to pursue nuclear projects, including its controversial uranium enrichment programme.

   The West, however, fears that Iran would use the same enrichment technology to make nuclear weapons and use them against arch-enemy Israel.

   "We [Iran and the West] have to hold the talks in a calm and logical atmosphere and not with threats and intimidations," said Rafsanjani, who heads the Experts Assembly, a clergy body, and is a fierce opponent of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

   The Iranian refusal to heed three UN Security Council resolutions demanding a suspension of uranium enrichment has led to sanctions against the Islamic state.

   Tehran sayis it is willing to cooperate with the West, even the United States, in its nuclear projects, including enrichment, but demands its right to nuclear technology should be internationally acknowledged.

   "Insisting on baseless accusations that Iran was following a secret nuclear programme for military purposes and using this to cause fear in the region would just mix up regional calm and stability which is not to the world powers' benefit, either," Rafsanjani, a moderate cleric, said.

   The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said Wednesday that new nuclear developments would be implemented until April and indicated the number of enrichment centrifuges operating in the Natanz enrichment plant in central Iran would rise from currently 6,000 to 10,000 units.

   Gholam-Reza Aqazadeh said Iran planned to have 50,000 centrifuges within the next five years for starting its own nuclear fuel cycle and providing fuel for power plants and light-water reactors in southern and south-western Iran which are, however, not yet completed.

   According to Aqazadeh, the technology of the centrifuges might be upgraded within the coming years, indicating that the P-1 devices now in operation might gradually be replaced with the faster P-2 models.

   He said that besides the joint Iranian-Russian nuclear power plant at Bushehr, Iran has already concluded the initial phase of a locally made 360-megawatt light-water reactor in Darkhowayn in south-western Iran.

   Aqazadeh rejected any connection between Iran's technical time- table and talks between Tehran and the five permanent United Nation Security Council member states plus Germany.

   "Those talks are political and we [Iran's Atomic Energy Organization] have to take care of the technical aspects," he said.

   "All our nuclear programmes are solely for civil and peaceful purposes and the West is just taking the alleged secret military programme as a pretext for a futile political game as it is already an irrevocable fact that Iran has gained the nuclear know-how," Aqazadeh added.

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