Iran nuclear facility in Bushehr - AP - 01012012
Iran's nuclear facility in Bushehr. Photo by AP
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An Israeli official says a prominent Iranian lawmaker's claim that Tehran has the capability to produce atomic weapons reinforces Israel's view that Iran's nuclear program has a military dimension.

The Israeli official reiterated on Saturday demands that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued last month: Iran must stop enriching uranium, remove all military-grade enriched material from the country, and dismantle its Fordo nuclear research site.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Iranian lawmaker Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam said that Iran has the knowledge and scientific capability to produce nuclear weapons but will never do so.

Moghadam is a parliamentarian, not a government official, and his views do not represent the Iranian government's policy, but his comment on the Iranian parliament's website late Friday was the first time a prominent Iranian politician has publicly stated that Tehran has the technological capability to build a nuclear bomb.

"Iran has the scientific and technological capability to produce [a] nuclear weapon, but will never choose this path," the website quoted him as saying. His assertion suggests that Iran is trying to show unity in its political establishment around its often repeated claims that it seeks world-class technological advances including nuclear expertise, but does not want to develop atomic arms as the United States and its allies claim.

The statement comes before planned talks begin this week with the United States and other world powers over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.