Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Iran 'Aggressively Seeking Atom Bomb'

The Australian:
Iran is "aggressively" trying to build atomic bombs and the time has come for sanctions to back diplomacy aimed at reining in Tehran, the US told the UN nuclear watchdog's board of governors today.

"Given Iran's history of deception, lack of transparency, provocative behaviour and disregard for its international obligations, we must take further steps to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions," US envoy Gregory Schulte said in a board debate.

"We are convinced that Iran is aggressively pursuing the technology, material and know-how to build nuclear weapons," Mr Schulte told the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35 nation board of governors in Vienna. READ MORE

"The time has come for the (UN) security council to back international diplomacy with international sanctions," he said.

"Sanctions will not signal an end to diplomacy" aimed at getting Iran to stop enriching uranium in exchange for trade incentives, he said.

"Iran's leaders must understand that their choices have consequences and that their best choice remains the course of cooperation. The United States remains committed to a diplomatic solution. But the world cannot accept a nuclear-armed Iran."

Iran said its uranium enrichment program is meant solely to generate electricity but years of IAEA investigations have been unable to rule out accusations that Tehran may be conducting a secret parallel weapons program.

Mr Schulte spoke on the eve of last-chance talks between the European Union and Iran, expected to be held in Paris and aimed at creating a basis for formal negotiations that could head off sanctions action by Western powers in the security Council.