Reuters: Time is working against the United States in its dispute with Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme, Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations said in an interview published on Monday. PARIS, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Time is working against the United States in its dispute with Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme, Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations said in an interview published on Monday.
The United States, France and Britain are pushing for the U.N. Security Council to pass new sanctions against Iran this week for ignoring demands it suspend uranium enrichment, which can make fuel for power plants or, potentially, atomic weapons.
In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, Zalmay Khalilzad said Iran’s testing of a new generation of centrifuges — machines that enrich uranium — would bring it closer to obtaining the fissile material needed for a nuclear weapon.
“From a certain point of view, time is not working in our favour — the Iranians are now planning to develop a new, more efficient generation of centrifuges and if they master that technology to produce fissile material they will have access to better enriched uranium,” he said in comments written in French.
Western countries fear Iran plans to produce atomic weapons but Tehran says the enrichment is part of a peaceful atomic programme intended only to produce electricity.
“Given that Iran had a nuclear weapons programme in violation of its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, given the regime’s policy, its rhetoric, its association with certain groups … it would be too risky to let it acquire the capacity to obtain nuclear weapons,” he added.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), published a report last week concluding Iran was accelerating its enrichment programme rather than suspending it.
Khalilzad said the United States wanted to find a diplomatic solution and existing U.N. sanctions were putting Iran under pressure.
“We understand Iran’s desire to develop a civilian nuclear programme for the production of electricity and we want to work with it on supplying fuel for its reactors, on the condition that it suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities,” he said. (Reporting by Francois Murphy; editing by Andrew Dobbie)