Iran is prepared to begin exporting its nuclear technology, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday, in an escalation of warnings to Western countries attempting to curb its nuclear program.
Other Iranian officials said the Islamic republic would hide its nuclear program and curtail its oil production if foreign governments take harsh actions against Iran for failure to restrict its nuclear activities.
Khamenei and other senior authorities issued the statements ahead of a Friday deadline set by the U.N. Security Council for the International Atomic Energy Agency to deliver a report on the status of Tehran's nuclear program. A report confirming Iran's claims that it is continuing and expanding uranium enrichment efforts would likely prompt a Security Council debate as early as next week over whether to exert new pressures, including the possible sanctions against Iran.
"The nuclear capability of Iranian scientists is one example of the numerous scientific movements in the country," Khamenei said Tuesday, according to state television, "and the Islamic republic is ready to transfer this experience and the technology and knowledge of its scientists."
Western officials have expressed strong concerns over the spread of nuclear technology to countries or terrorist organizations that might couple such knowledge with clandestine materials to make crude nuclear weapons.
Iran's national security chief, Ali Larijani, also warned Tuesday that Iran's nuclear program could become covert. Iran now allows IAEA inspectors to monitor its nuclear facilities, though the agency has complained frequently that Iran has not provided it with sufficient information, and the United States has alleged that some secret facilities may exist.
"Military action against Iran will not lead to the closure of the program," Larijani told reporters during a nuclear energy conference, the official IRNA news agency reported. "If you take harsh measures, we will hide this program. Then you cannot solve the nuclear issue."
The United States and some European countries have accused Iran of using its nuclear energy program to camouflage a covert effort to develop nuclear weapons; Iran says its program is exclusively aimed at electric power generation. The IAEA has reported that it has found no evidence of a weapons program, although inspectors also say they cannot verify that such a program does not exist.