Akbar Rafsanjani says he and ayatollah began program to create deterrent during war with Iraq — report
The reported comments by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to the state-run IRNA news agency would appear to mark the first time a top Iranian official — current or former — has said the country sought a nuclear weapon, in contravention of repeated assurances by the regime that its enrichment program is and always has been peaceful.
The comments by Rafsanjani, which do not appear on IRNA’s English website, were first reported on by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a dissident group of Iranian exiles.
Rafsanjani said the program was begun while the country was at war with Iraq in the 1980s with the express consent and participation of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to NCRI.
“Our basic doctrine was peaceful usage of the nuclear technology although 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 reportedly said.
According to the NCRI, Rafsanjani’s comments are tantamount to admitting that the country is still pursuing a nuclear weapon, though that assertion was not borne out by the group’s translation of the interview.
“The statement by Rafsanjani is an unequivocal testimony to the fact that the Iranian regime, from the onset until present, and under direct supervision of Khamenei and Rafsanjani, has been in search of the nuclear weapon and has never abandoned it,” NCRI said in a statement.
Full article: Former Iran leader said to admit country pursued nukes (The Times of Israel)