Ali Akbar Salehi

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi says Iran’s atomic program has reached a point where it can no longer be stopped or turned back.

IRNA reports that Salehi said on Wednesday: "In Iran, nuclear technology has become a fundamental and vital part of industry, and its centres are spread out all across the country."

He added: "We have trained thousands of scientists and taken them into service; how can the West stop our uranium enrichment program? They have to know this is the reality."

Iran’s nuclear program has been a source of concern for the U.S. and other western countries that maintain it could be directed toward military ends.

The United Nations has issued four resolutions to impose sanctions on Iran in connection with its nuclear activities. Iran, however, persistently maintains that its nuclear program is peaceful.

Salehi also touched on the launch of the Bushehr Nuclear Plant, saying it will soon happen.

The Bushehr Nuclear Plant was scheduled to start up last year, but technical difficulties forced the Russian contractors to remove the fuel from the reactor. In recent months, officials have reported that all issues have been resolved and the launch is imminent; however, Parliament has severely criticized the delays and accused Russia of deliberately delaying the launch to prevent Iran from developing its nuclear capabilities.

The Bushehr Nuclear Plant began construction in 1975 under contract with Siemens. However, following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the project was halted and later picked up by Russia’s Atmoestroyexport in 1997.