TEHRAN (Reuters) â€” Iran is ready to share its nuclear technology, considered to be a front for bomb-making by Washington, with other Islamic countries, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying on Thursday.
The comments were likely to heighten Western concerns about Tehran’s nuclear programme just ahead of a key meeting of the UN’s nuclear watchdog this month which could decide to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for punitive action.
â€œThe Islamic Republic never seeks weapons of mass destruction and with respect to the needs of Islamic countries, we are ready to transfer nuclear know-how to these countries,â€ the official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
The remarks were made during a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, IRNA said.
Washington and its allies say Iran has failed to provide full and timely information about its nuclear programme and are alarmed that Tehran last month broke UN seals at a uranium processing facility.
A vote on sending Iran’s nuclear case to the UN Security Council may be taken at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board on September 19. However, Western diplomats acknowledge that many non-aligned countries and the IAEA itself oppose referring Iran at this stage.
Seeking to avert referral to the Security Council, which could impose sanctions, Iran is engaged in intense lobbying for support from non-aligned countries at the UN summit.
`Not the pressing question’
Iran state media reported that Ahmadinejad, who took office last month, had also held meetings with the leaders of Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan and Chile in New York.
A British Foreign Office spokesman said it was not clear what Ahamdinejad’s offer to Islamic countries involved. â€œIn any case, this is not the pressing question,â€ he said. â€œThe issue is the lack of confidence in Iran’s nuclear programme as a result of two decades of non-disclosures and concealment.â€ Iran insists it has every right as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to develop a full atomic programme to generate electricity.
â€œWe have firmly decided to use this technology for peaceful purposes within the framework of the NPT, international regulations and cooperation with the IAEA,â€ IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
Turkey has said it plans to generate about five per cent of its energy demand by 2012 from nuclear power through the construction of reactors with 4,500 megawatt (MW) capacity.
Like Iran, Egypt has been accused of carrying out undeclared nuclear work which Cairo says was linked solely to peaceful applications such as power generation and desalinisation.
Saudi Arabia has said it is open to IAEA inspections but is not interested in developing either a nuclear weapons or power programme.
Iran, which received much of its own nuclear know-how from Islamic neighbour and nuclear weapons power Pakistan, says it wants to produce at least 6,000 MW from nuclear power by 2021 with eventual plans to generate 20,000 MW from atomic reactors.