Monday, April 23, 2018

Iran says supreme leader's ban on nuclear weapons is binding

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran sought Tuesday to spell out in its clearest terms yet that it is not seeking nuclear weapons, highlighting a religious decree issued by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that bans them.

Iran authorities have often cited Khamenei's religious edict, made more than seven years ago, in attempts to counter Western suspicion that Iran could be moving toward nuclear arms. But Iranian leaders now appear increasingly desperate to reopen talks with world powers as a possible way to ease sanctions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the United States and its allies don't understand the significance of the edict. "There is nothing higher than the exalted supreme leader's fatwa to define the framework for our activities in the nuclear field," he told a news conference.

The West and its allies have accused Iran of using any tactic to prolong the standoff and possibly advance its nuclear capabilities.

Senior U.N. investigators trying for more than a year to restart an inquiry into Iran's alleged work on nuclear arms headed to Tehran on Tuesday. The trip comes as Iran and six world powers —the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — prepare to meet, tentatively this month.

Iran is under four sets of Security Council sanctions and stepped-up Western oil and banking sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or materials that can be used for a warhead.

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