U.S.: Iran nuclear program in advanced stage
Iran has a far stronger nuclear weapons program than earlier thought, US officials said, following a news report that Tehran was in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"I mean, here we suddenly discover that Iran is much further along, with a far more robust nuclear weapons development program than anyone said it had," Secretary of State Colin Powell told CNN.
This, he said, "shows you how a determined nation that has the intent to develop a nuclear weapon can keep that development process secret from inspectors and outsiders."
"It does not surprise us at all that Iran has been trying to acquire nuclear weapons and to enrich uranium," US national security advisor Condoleezza Rice told ABC.
"It's been couched as a peaceful program. But we've been for a long time one of the lone voices that has said that the Iranians are a problem," she added.
In a clear reference to Iraq, she said this demonstrated the risk of rushing to conclusions about "who is making progress on a nuclear program."
Iran announced last week it intends to activate a uranium conversion facility near the city of Isfahan, a step that produces the uranium hexafluoride gas used in the enrichment process, according to Time magazine.
"That would be a blatant violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," Time said.
Time Magazine quoted diplomatic sources as saying work on the Natanz plant "is extremely advanced" and involves "hundreds" of gas centrifuges ready to produce enriched uranium and "the parts for a thousand others ready for assembly." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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