Iran says nuclear bomb would be "strategic mistake"

Fri May 27, 2011 11:03am EDT
 

By Fredrik Dahl

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran's nuclear envoy said on Friday it would be a "strategic mistake" to build atom bombs, dismissing what a leading Western expert cited as evidence suggesting Tehran was seeking the means to do just that.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also insisted during a public debate that sanctions and the Stuxnet computer virus had failed to slow the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program.

"Please be assured that none of the sanctions have affected our nuclear activities ... 100 percent sure," he said.

Asked about Stuxnet, which Iran has blamed on enemies waging a "cyber war" against it, he said: "No destruction, no problem."

Western analysts say increasingly tough sanctions on Iran as well as Stuxnet and possible other sabotage have delayed Iran's nuclear progress, even though they say the country now has enough low-enriched uranium for two bombs if refined more.

Enriched uranium can be used to fuel power plants, Iran's stated aim, or provide bomb material if processed much further.

Any setbacks for Iran's nuclear work could buy more time for major powers to try and reach a diplomatic solution. Israel and the United States have refused to rule out military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear bombs.

Soltanieh said that developing nuclear bombs would put Iran at a disadvantage in any talks with the United States and other nuclear-armed states, which would have many more such weapons.   Continued...