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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ahmadinejad said to be pushing for open atom work

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Photo: AFP

'Reliable intelligence assessment' obtained by AP says Iranian president wants to continue with developing nuclear weapons openly but is opposed by Tehran's clerical leadership

The end to ambiguity? Iran's president wants to shed the nation's secrecy and forge ahead openly with developing nuclear weapons, but is opposed by the clerical leadership, which is worried about international reaction to such a move, an intelligence assessment hedged Friday.

That report, from what the Associated Press called "a nation with traditionally reliable intelligence from the region," could not be confirmed and it contrasts with assessments by other countries that view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as relatively moderate on the nuclear issue compared to the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Attempts to interpretIran's goals are important because as it expandsuranium enrichment, it is moving closer to being able to make a nuclear weapon, even as it asserts that it is not interested in such arms and its programs are geared only to making reactor fuel.

A US official cited one assessment he has seen suggesting Ahmadinejad may be more "moderate" — more open to talks with the international community on resolving nuclear concerns than Khamenei.

Pushing for a bomb
But a blunt comment by Ahmadinejad last month raises questions. While repeating that Iran does not want nuclear arms, he openly reinforced its ability to make them, telling Iranian state TV that "if we want to make a bomb, we are not afraid of anybody."

That defiant statement fits the scenario outlined by the intelligence assessment shared with the AP, depicting Ahmadinejad as wanting to move publicly to develop a nuclear program.


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