17 March 2010
Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, currently on a visit in London, has told the BBC that Western claims Iran was seeking to produce nuclear weapons were “only rumors.” In an interview, Erdogan described Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a “friend.” The Turkish prime minister said, through an interpreter: “I believe it is Iran's most natural right to employ nuclear energy for civilian purposes." He expressed confidence that Iran would produce nuclear energy for civilian purposes only and added that he had told Ahmadinejad “I don't want to see nuclear weapons in the region.”
Erdogan said it was “unfair" of nuclear-armed countries to "manipulate the facts" about Iran while at the same time not telling Israel to dispose of its nuclear weapons. "Countries with nuclear weapons are not in a position to turn to another country and say: You are not supposed to produce nuclear weapons," he told BBC television.
In February, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report that Iran's refusal to cooperate and answer questions about its nuclear program raised concerns about the possible existence of "past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile."
Meanwhile, the US military commander for the Middle East, General David Petraeus, told a hearing in the US Congress that Iran’s drive to build nuclear weapons appeared to have slipped back slightly, and that Tehran was unlikely to acquire an atomic bomb during 2010.
Watch excerpts of Erdogan’s interview on the ‘BBC News’ website.
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