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. Iran sticks by belief that nuclear arms unIslamic: minister
BRUSSELS (AFP) Nov 23, 2004
Iranian deputy foreign minister Gholamali Khoshrou denied Tuesday that his country's top leaders were at odds over whether nuclear weapons were un-Islamic, insisting that it will "never" make the bomb.

Addressing the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, Khoshrou also said that the Islamic republic was wholly committed to a suspension of its uranium enrichment drive despite US "propaganda" to the contrary.

Asked by lawmakers to clarify whether former president and top regime cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani believed that Islam permitted Iran to make atomic weapons as a deterrent to Israel, the minister said there was no basis to this.

"Those quotes are out of context. This is not the position of Iran," Khoshrou said.

"The highest authority in Iran, Ayatollah (Ali) Khamenei, has reiterated on several occasions his religious verdict on the prohibition of producing, stockpiling and using nuclear weapons," he said.

"We have never been after the atomic bomb. We don't believe in that, in accordance with our religious belief. It has never been an option for Iran and never will it be."

Iran said Monday it was implementing a hard-fought deal with the European Union to suspend uranium enrichment in return for the promise of enhanced trade and political ties.

The United States accuses Iran of using a civilian atomic energy programme to secretly develop nuclear weapons, a charge vehemently denied by Tehran.

At the weekend during a visit to Israel, US Secretary of State Colin Powell reiterated accusations that Iran is seeking to adapt its missiles to carry nuclear warheads.

"We are not terrified by American propaganda that Iran is doing this or that," Khoshrou said.

"But everyone knows that Israel has nuclear capability. Israel's missiles would hurt anybody in the region. No concern is raised about that," he added.

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