Iran denies Dr Khan's help in N-plan

(IranMania) - Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani has rubbished the idea often heard in Pakistan that his country had tried to bribe Islamabad to get access to sophisticated nuclear technology for producing bombs, according to Pakistan Dawn web site.

He also denied that Dr A.Q. Khan had in anyway helped Iran in its nuclear programme.

Asked to comment on Ms Benazir Bhutto's claim quoting Gen Mirza Aslam Beg, who was army chief when she was prime minister, that Iran had offered as much as 12 billion dollars to Pakistan to acquire nuclear technology, Mr Larijani said he had met Gen Beg several times, but according to his knowledge no such offer was ever made by Tehran to Islamabad, reports Trend.

He had regular contacts with Pakistan, but it was for the first time that he was hearing about the alleged financial incentive to the Benazir government. (Gen Beg himself has not denied the story two years after he claimed in a newspaper interview that he had conveyed the purported Iranian offer to the prime minister, but that Ms Bhutto had declined it).

Mr Larijani is secretary general of Iran's National Security Council and has more clout with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad than Foreign Minister Manoucheher Muttaki, at least on the nuclear question. I have met Gen Beg several times, he said, but it is for the first time that I am hearing about this alleged scandal.

Asked whether Dr A. Q. Khan had helped Iran in its nuclear quest and whether the designs of some Pakistan-made centrifuges or some centrifuges themselves had found their way into Iran's nuclear installations, Mr Larijani said a lot of things had been said about Pakistan's alleged involvement with Iran's nuclear programme, but the real purpose behind such stories was to put pressure on Pakistan. Our nuclear technology is indigenous and (if at all Pakistan had assisted Iran), it was, according to the official transcript given by the Iranian government, at the level of academic things.

Asked whether it was true that Iran had acknowledged Pakistan's help to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mr Larijani said: I have (already) said Pakistan's help was not what they (the Americans) say (it was). These are just tales. The allegations about Pakistan-made centrifuges finding their way into Iran were meant to put pressure on Pakistan, because the IAEA knows that we build the centrifuges ourselves.

The Iranian nuclear negotiator, who looks more like a French diplomat than a leader who belongs to the top leadership of Islamic Iran, gave a detailed account of the various phases through which his country's nuclear programme -- begun by Mohammad Raza Shah Pahlavi, the last king of kings, had gone through.

He accused the United States, Germany, France and Canada of reneging on their commitments and violating agreements with Iran once the Shah was overthrown and the Islamic revolution triumphed. Germany was supposed to build the Bushehr nuclear power station, while agreements had been signed with France for two more power stations based on nuclear fuel. But they had gone back on their commitments. Both had received huge amounts of money from Iran, but neither had bothered to implement the agreements.

The Americans were to give Iran nuclear fuel for the Bushehr power plant, but once the Shah was overthrown Washington held back both the fuel and the money. Similarly, Iran purchased 10 per cent of shares in a French company for obtaining nuclear fuel, but we have not received even one gram of it.

Because of these violations of the agreements, he said, and because Iran needed nuclear technology it decided to develop it on its own and succeeded in doing so. He accused the IAEA of lying about Iran's nuclear programme, because the agency knew all along that Iran's nuclear programme was thoroughly indigenous. Under American pressure, three European countries made offers to Tehran to transfer nuclear technology to Iran, but after weeks of negotiations he found that what they were offering was a piece of chocolate and not nuclear technology.

This forced Iran to concentrate on developing nuclear technology on its own, in spite of all sanctions. We are working under the supervision of the IAEA and their inspectors visit us regularly. There is nothing to hide.

Asked how much Iran would rely on Russian and Chinese support in the Security Council if the Americans pressed the world body for sanctions, Mr Larijani said Iran relied on its own efforts, though he said his government would never give up diplomacy for seeking a solution to the problem.

The people and government of Pakistan were supportive of Iran's nuclear plans, but there were obvious dissimilarities between the two on the nuclear question. Pakistan had not signed the NPT and had manufactured nuclear weapons, while Iran had signed the NPT and was committed to nuclear energy's use for peaceful purposes.

About Israel's threat to attack Iran, Mr Larijani said Tel Aviv was not serious about it and would be stupid if it thought in terms of using force because if it did it will receive a strong response. A European diplomat had told him that (in the aftermath of the Lebanese war) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was a political corpse.

Regarding President Ahmedinejad's views about Israel, he said the only solution to the Palestinian question was democracy. This meant that there should be free elections in which all Palestinians, including those who were living abroad, should take part.

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