Iran Says Election Result Won't Impact Nuke Plans

Iran will resume uranium enrichment (search) activities at some point, no matter who wins the presidential runoff race, the foreign minister spokesman said Friday.

The statement by Hamid Reza Asefi backed up earlier declarations by Iranian officials that the nation would never abandon its enrichment program.

"Whoever is the next president, a permanent suspension is not on the cards," Asefi said shortly after voting began in the contest between moderate Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani (search) and hard-line Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (search).

First results were expected early Saturday. said the president has "a certain influence" on Iran's nuclear program but decision-making includes the powerful ruling clerics, who hold near-absolute power.

On Thursday, former chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix (search) told Swedish Radio it would take many years for Iran to achieve the capability to produce highly enriched uranium needed for an atomic bomb.