TEHRAN (AFP) – The possession of a nuclear bomb would threaten Iran's security, the country's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said in comments reported on Friday.
"We consider the possession of nuclear arms doesn't conform with the interests of the country and threatens the security of Iran," Zarif said, adding however that Iranians "will not give up their rights."
"But we will show the world that there is no threat from Iran. The only threat... is from the Zionist regime," he said, quoted by the Fars news agency, in reference to Israel.
Along with Western governments, Israel -- which has the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear arsenal -- suspects Iran is using its nuclear programme as cover to develop a weapons capability. Iran insists it is for peaceful purposes only.
The United States and European Union have slapped the Islamic republic with a raft of economic sanctions in a bid to halt its nuclear drive, and Zarif called for these to be lifted through "rational negotiations".
On August 6, newly elected President Hassan Rowhani said Iran was ready for "serious" talks on its nuclear programme without delay and that US calls for tougher sanctions showed a lack of understanding.
"I think Western leaders have not understood the message of the presidential election. They think the government will waive the rights of the Iranian" nuclear programme, said Zarif.
"The United States and European countries must understand that the Iranian people will not give up their rights and no government can afford to do it.
"But, at the same time, we want to show the world that there is no threat from Iran," he added.