For Washington and Paris, Iran not capable of making nuclear weapons
French foreign minister accuses Tehran of fuelling tensions. Clashes occur in Iranian capital during celebrations marking the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Unconfirmed reports speak of three people killed. The Iranian government imposes tight censorship, bans foreign journalists.
Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – France and the United States do not believe Iran when it says it has the capability of enriching uranium to near weapons-grade levels, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Friday. "The Americans don't believe, not any more than us, that Iran is currently capable of enriching uranium to 80 per cent," Kouchner said. However, Iran's claim "adds to the dangerousness" of the situation, the minister told Europe 1 radio, and is fuelling tensions over the Iranian nuclear programme.

Yesterday, Iran celebrated the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and the fall of the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, replaced by the country’s Shia clergy, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini.

Despite government threats and the large-scale mobilisation of police and paramilitary forces, regime opponents did take to the streets to demonstrate against the dictatorship, shouting slogans like “death to the dictator”.

Online social networks have been flooded by rumours about clashes, violence and gunshots in the air and against crowds. Blogs and twitter have reported the death of three people, including a 27-year-old woman called Leyla Zarei, allegedly shot to death by police in Vali Astr Square in Tehran. However, the information could not be independently verified because of tight censorship imposed by the regime and a ban on foreign journalists.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the West to stop interfering with Iran’s plans, saying, "It's time for foreign enemies to wake up and abandon futile efforts to subjugate Iran.”  At the same time, he thanked the tens of millions who gathered to mark the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution, saying that it reflected the nation's strength.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said this week that Iran has the capacity "to enrich uranium more than 20 per cent or 80 per cent" but that it doesn't intend to build a bomb. A 90 per cent-plus level is needed for a weapon.

White House spokesman Gibbs rejected Ahmadinejad's assertions, saying Iran had “made a series of statements that are . . . based on politics not on physics”.

In his statement today, France’s top diplomat reiterates the view that Tehran is not capable of building atomic weapons.