AFP: Iran has the capacity to produce nuclear weapons but does not intend doing so, a senior Iranian official said here Wednesday. "We do not intend making nuclear weapons,"
said Ali Akbar Soltan, deputy director-general of Iran's foreign ministry political department. AFP

MOSCOW - Iran has the capacity to produce nuclear weapons but does not intend doing so, a senior Iranian official said here Wednesday.

"We do not intend making nuclear weapons," said Ali Akbar Soltan, deputy director-general of Iran's foreign ministry political department.

The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in Vienna has set a November 25 deadline for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities and answer all questions about its nuclear ambitions.

The United States alleges Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.

"If we had had such an intention, we would have done so a long time ago because Iran has the capacity to do so, especially talented scientists," Soltani told an international conference here.

"But we are interested only in nuclear power for peaceful purposes," Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

Last month, Russia called on Iran to ease international concerns about its nuclear ambitions by ratifying the additional protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and halting all uranium enrichment.

"The IAEA would like to seek more steps to strengthen trust in Iran's nuclear programme, and Iran must take such steps," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying in the Tajik capital Dushanbe.

Lavrov urged the Iranian parliament to ratify the additional protocol of the NPT, which Tehran signed in December 2003 and which steps up international controls on the nuclear activities of signatory states.

He also called on Tehran to immediately freeze all uranium enrichment activities, another key demand of the international community.

The uranium enrichment process produces fuel for civilian reactors but is also used for production of the explosive core of atomic bombs.

Lavrov also emphasised that Russia's help in building Iran's first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr "was absolutely not a cause for concern at the IAEA" and vowed that Moscow would forge ahead with the project.

The United States has also opposed the project over concerns that spent fuel from the plant could be used by Iran to produce low-yield nuclear weapons.