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. Exiles claim Tehran planning first nuke next year
PARIS (AFP) Sep 10, 2004
Exiled Iranian opposition officials claimed Friday that the Tehran regime plans to have its first nuclear bomb built by the middle of next year.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, speaking ahead of a meeting next week of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to discuss Iran's nuclear capability, said Tehran has allocated some 16 billion dollars to the program.

"The Iranian regime is trying every means to avoid a decision by the IAEA's Board of Governors next week to refer Iran's case to UN Security Council," the group said, citing "accurate information" from opposition inside Iran.

The United States has pressed the IAEA, whose governors meet from Monday, to refer Iran to the UN Security Council. But others, notaby European countries which have sought to remain engaged with Tehran, are resisting such a move.

The NCRI claimed that Tehran "is engaged in yet another deceptive attempt to prevent a decisive decision by the international community ... This would give (Iran) enough time to advance their plans for developing a nuclear bomb."

Khamenei "has ordered the relevant apparatus of the regime to produce the first nuclear bomb by mid 2005," it added.

It added that Iran's supreme leader had added another two billion dollars to this project "which brings the total spending for the regime's nuclear projects to 16 billion dollars."

In order to meet the deadline set by Khamenei, various sites including Natanz, Isfahan, and Arak are very active and engineers are working extended hours and during holidays, it claimed.

A leading Iranian hardliner warned the international community Friday not delude itself that the Islamic regime could be persuaded to abandon its nuclear programme, as it had been approved at the highest level of the leadership.

"They should know that the Iranian nation has taken its decision and that the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) is firmly behind the notion of acquiring nuclear technology," said Ayatollah Ahmad Janati.

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