Reuters: Iran will continue to enrich uranium, influential former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Monday, as concerns grow over possible U.S. military action against Tehran’s nuclear program. KUWAIT (Reuters) – Iran will continue to enrich uranium, influential former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Monday, as concerns grow over possible U.S. military action against Tehran’s nuclear program.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran does not intend to stop,” he said when asked about Iran’s success at enriching uranium.
“The Islamic Republic wants to continue along its path,” he told reporters in Kuwait during a visit to the Gulf state.
Last week, Iran announced it had enriched uranium for use in its power stations, stoking a diplomatic row with the West which suspects Tehran is trying to build an atomic bomb. Iran says it is seeking nuclear power to generate electricity.
Rafsanjani, speaking through an interpreter, said he did not believe the United States would attack Iran.
“We are sure that America will not enter into such a predicament,” he added. “But if (Iran) is subjected to an aggression …, then the war will have its consequences.”
Rafsanjani, who now heads a council that arbitrates Iranian legislative disputes, told reporters in Syria on Sunday during his Middle East tour: “We do not discount the possibility of U.S. aggression under any circumstance; we stress at the same time that it would not be in the interest of the United States, nor us.”
He added: “Harm will not only engulf the Islamic Republic of Iran, but the region and everybody.”
Iran’s Gulf neighbors have repeatedly expressed concern at its nuclear program, saying that they would be the first affected if anything goes wrong — whether a leak in a reactor or an actual strike.
“We in the Gulf are worried by Iran’s nuclear program,” Abdul Rahman al-Attiya, secretary-general of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, told reporters in Yemen.
In Kuwait, Rafsanjani sought to ally Gulf fears, saying the nuclear program which he said was bound by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“This is a comprehensive treaty and the paths toward any breaches are blocked,” he said.
Iran’s nuclear ambitions have added tension in the Gulf region, which is already worried about instability in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led war that ousted Saddam Hussein.
(Additional reporting by Mohamed Ghobari in Yemen)