AFP: International pressure must be kept on Iran to halt its suspect nuclear program, the US said Tuesday, amid reports that Tehran has made progress enriching uranium in defiance of UN sanctions. WASHINGTON, May 15, 2007 (AFP) – International pressure must be kept on Iran to halt its suspect nuclear program, the US said Tuesday, amid reports that Tehran has made progress enriching uranium in defiance of UN sanctions.
The White House has not seen a report due to be filed by the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by May 23 on Tehran’s nuclear work, spokesman Tony Snow said.
“But the fact is that Iran continues to isolate itself with its behavior when it comes to the nuclear program, and we continue to monitor the situation,” he said.
Diplomats told AFP that UN inspectors have learned that Iran was moving towards meeting a claim made by its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Tehran had achieved an “industrial scale” of uranium enrichment.
“The important thing here is that we have continued to have sustained pressure on the Iranians,” Snow said.
“There continues to be unity among the allies when it comes to trying to put pressure on the Iranians,” he added.
The aim was to force the Iranians to “come to the table” to make them “in fact suspend the program” and agree to “a whole series of benefits that would be good for the Iranian people,” he added.
Enrichment is the process that makes fuel for nuclear power reactors or, in highly refined form, the raw material for atom bombs.
One diplomat, who closely follows the Iranian program told AFP, in Vienna that Iran had not mastered enrichment yet.
“They still have problems, a main one being to run the centrifuges for a long, long period,” the diplomat said. Centrifuges are the machines that spin rotors at supersonic speeds to enrich uranium.
The United States and Iran broke off diplomatic relations in 1980, and Washington has accused Tehran of making a push to develop nuclear arms.
Tehran has always denied the accusations saying that its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes only.
The UN Security Council has now imposed two sets of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.