Tuesday, April 11, 2006

White House Says Iran Nuclear Steps in Wrong Direction

Iran's statements on its nuclear program are "moving in the wrong direction" and if Tehran persists, the United States will discuss possible next steps with the U.N. Security Council, a White House spokesman said on Tuesday. READ MORE

Spokesman Scott McClellan was responding to word from former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani earlier on Tuesday that Iran is producing enriched uranium from 164 centrifuges, a major step toward its goal of making nuclear fuel for power stations.

"If the regime continues to move in the direction that it is currently, then we will be talking about the way forward with the other members of the Security Council and Germany about how to address this going forward," McClellan said on board Air Force One en route to Missouri.

The Iranian announcement was a serious setback to U.N. Security Council efforts to have Iran halt enrichment work. It could escalate a confrontation with Western powers leading to consideration of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

"The most recent statements from the regime only further isolate (it) and continue to show that it is moving in the wrong direction," McClellan said.

The United States has repeatedly said Iran's nuclear program is a cover for developing nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists it is for civilian purposes to generate electricity.

McClellan did not specify what the next steps might be at the U.N. Security Council, where some members have been reluctant to embrace stronger measures such as sanctions.