Iran’s nuke ambitions confirmed: Former president reveals meetings with Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan
Special to WorldTribune.com
Iran has long intended to attain nuclear weapons capability, going so far as to enlist the help of rogue Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said.
In an interview with state-run IRNA news agency, Rafsanjani said Iran’s nuclear ambitions became clear amid the Iran-Iraq War that began in 1980 and ended in 1988.
“At the time that we started, we were at war and we were looking to have this capability [the nuclear bomb] for the day that our enemy would want to resort to the nuclear bomb,” Rafsanjani said.
The Persian-language interview was translated by Iranian opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Rafsanjani, Iran’s president from 1989-1997, said in the interview that Iran’s “basic doctrine was peaceful usage of the nuclear technology,” but added “we never abandoned the idea that if one day we are threatened and it is imperative, we would have the capability for going the other path [to nuclear weapon] as well.”
Rafsanjani also admitted that Teheran had sought the assistance of Khan. The former president said that he, along with current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, then a senior official in Ayatollah Khomenei’s regime, traveled to Pakistan to meet with Khan, who is believed to have sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.
“There were some talks with the Pakistanis. There was a nuclear scientist called Abdul Qadeer Khan in Pakistan… In a trip to Pakistan, I asked to see him. They did not show him to me,” he said.
Though he did not meet with Khan, Rafsanjani said that “it seemed that Mr. Abdul Qadeer Khan himself believed that the Islamic World should have the nuclear bomb. He believed in this and it was he who built Pakistan’s nuclear bomb although it took time to build the bomb. In any case, they agreed to help us a bit.
“We implemented part of our nuclear activity when we were still at war and Iraq was close to securing enrichment when Israel destroyed all of it,” he said, referring to Israel’s daring raid on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility which destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program.
“Those years, we were all thinking that we should arm ourselves with deterrent elements since the war was not about to end and in our defensive policies we had the word of Imam [Khomeini] in mind that the war may last 20 years,” Rafsanjani said in what the NCRI believes is an admission of the “regime’s intentions to acquire (a) nuclear weapon.”