US says it cannot force Iran to shun bomb

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Offline Letsbereal

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US says it cannot force Iran to shun bomb
« on: February 03, 2010, 03:27:39 PM »
US says it cannot force Iran to shun bomb
3 February 2010
, by Daniel Dombey in Washington, Najmeh Bozorgmehr in,Tehran and Andrew England in Abu Dhabi (The Financial Times)

The US said yesterday that it could not forcibly prevent Iran from developing nuclear arms, but that it still hoped to dissuade Tehran from building a bomb.

On a day when Washington sought to make sense of favourable comments from Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, president of Iran, about a compromise previously spurned by Tehran, Dennis Blair, US national intelligence director, said the final decision about nuclear arms was Iran's to make.

Mr Blair said in Senate testimony that in spite of problems in enriching uranium, the progress of Iran's nuclear programme bolstered the US belief "that Iran is technically capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon in the next few years if it chooses to do so".

Other US officials were seeking clarification on Mr Ahmadi-Nejad's remarks about a deal offered by the US and allies last year under which most of Tehran's low-enriched uranium would be sent abroad to be processed into fuel for a medical research reactor.

Mr Ahmadi-Nejad said yesterday that Iran would have "no problem" giving the west its low-enriched uranium and taking it back when it was enriched for use in the reactor. "We say, 'We will give you our 3.5 per cent enriched uranium and will get the fuel,' " Reuters news agency quoted him as saying. "It may take four to five months until we get the fuel."

Iran had previously balked at the idea of handing over uranium unless fuel was returned straight away.

Despite Iranian protests that its atomic programme is peaceful, the USthinks it is intended to keep a weapons option open. Washington says processing Iran's stockpile for use in the medical reactor would make it harder to turn into weapons-grade material.

"The real question is, 'Are they serious?' " said a state department official. "The deal is on the table and if Iran is prepared to say yes, all they need to do is to call the International Atomic Energy Agency."

Meanwhile, Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran's parliament, denounced US plans to enhance missile defence systems in the Gulf.

"The regional countries should know that the US puppet show to safeguard and create security in the region is nothing but new political charlatanism to prepare the ground to increase their presence," Mr Larijani told parliament.
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