TEHRAN – The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution said on Monday that the West wants Iran to close the Fordo nuclear enrichment site because this facility is safe from any attack, calling the demand “comical”.
Fordo, dug into a mountain near the city of Qom, is safe from air attack.
“On the Fordo facility they say since this facility is not accessible and cannot be harmed it should be closed and this statement is comical,” Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei told a gathering of senior and mid-ranking Iranian officials.
The remarks by the Leader came as nuclear negotiations between Iran and the major powers (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) are underway in Vienna. The talks, which started last Wednesday, are aimed at ending more than ten years of nuclear dispute between Iran and the West.
The main sticking points in the talks are the number of centrifuges that Iran can have operating, installation of advanced centrifuges by Iran to refine uranium, and the Fordo enrichment site which the West wants turn to another use.
The United States’ strongest backers at the negotiating table are Britain, France, and Germany, with Russia and China leaning to agreeing on any deal acceptable to Tehran and Washington.
No limit to enrichment capacity
The Leader said the West wants Iran to consent to 10,000 centrifuges while these numbers of centrifuges, which are old, are already in operation and the concerned nuclear officials say that Iran “surely” needs about 190,000 centrifuges.
Ayatollah Khamenei went on to say that the United States’ opposition to Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity is “illogical” because there are mechanisms which “guarantee” no diversion toward nuclear weapons.
“There are transparent ways as well as responsible bodies (the UN nuclear watchdog) which guarantee no access to nuclear weapons and the Islamic Republic of Iran sees no problem in this regard.”
The Leader also said Iran “trusts” its nuclear negotiators and it is sure that they will not allow the country’s nuclear rights to be compromised.
He also said Iran’s right to nuclear research and development is something which should be “seriously” observed in the nuclear negotiations.