Iran Denies it is Willing to Shut Down Nuclear Site

September 18, 2013  

Iran denied on Wednesday that it plans to shut down the heavily fortified underground Fordow nuclear facility, reported Fars news.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, strongly rejected western media reports claiming that Tehran had proposed to the West to close the underground uranium enrichment facility in exchange for lifting the sanctions against the country.

“The closure of Fordow site is a sheer lie,” Salehi was quoted by Fars as having told reporters at the end of a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

The remarks are a response to a report in the German weekly Der Spiegel, which said on Monday that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is willing to dismantle the nuclear facility in Fordow.

According to the report, Rouhani intends on announcing the details of his offer before the United Nations General Assembly at the end of the month.

The Fordow nuclear facility began operations in late 2011 and is now believed to be “virtually indestructible,” though U.S. officials said recently that the Pentagon had redesigned its biggest “bunker buster” bomb with more advanced features intended to enable it to destroy Fordow.

According to Der Spiegel, Iran will demand that in return for destroying Fordow’s nuclear site, the U.S. and Europe rescind their sanctions against the Islamic Republic, including a ban on Iranian oil exports, and allow for international business with Iran’s central bank.

Meanwhile, according to Fars, Salehi predicted that the talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as Tehran’s negotiations with the six world powers (the U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) on the country’s nuclear program will yield good and tangible results this year.

He said Iran and the IAEA have agreed to hold their new round of talks on September 27.

“Iran is ready to enhance and strengthen engagement with the IAEA,” Salehi added.

Iran’s envoy to the IAEA said last week that Tehran had a “strong political will” to engage with the international community over its nuclear program, but warned that diplomacy was a two-way street and that Iran would never give up its nuclear “rights”.

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