Iran’s removal of United Nations seals from nuclear equipment at its Natanz facility risks a “serious escalation” of the country’s standoff with the international community over its nuclear program
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. (© AP/WWP)
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Washington -- Iran’s removal of United Nations seals from nuclear equipment at its Natanz facility risks a “serious escalation” of the country’s standoff with the international community over its nuclear program, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.
Speaking to the press January 10, McClellan repeated his warning that the issue might need referral to the U.N. Security Council if Iran does not comply with previous agreements and “does not negotiate in good faith” with the international community. The press secretary said that “a growing majority within the international community” shares this view.
Should Iran proceed with uranium enrichment and reprocessing, it further will violate the November 2004 Paris agreement negotiated with France, Germany and the United Kingdom (the EU-3), he said.
McClellan warned that if Iran were to master the technology of uranium enrichment, which he said is the intended purpose of its enrichment plant, “it would be able to apply that technology to a covert enrichment program which could be used to manufacture [nuclear] weapons.”
He said the “serious concern” throughout the international community about Iran’s behavior is “well founded,” partly due to Iran's “history of concealing and hiding [its] nuclear activities from the international community,” as well as its continued noncompliance of its nuclear safeguard obligations.
“It's also why the international community has sought objective guarantees from Iran that the regime is not developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian program,” he said.
McClellan said the United States is in discussions with European countries and others about how best to move forward and resume negotiations with Iran.
The United States is continuing to work to resolve the crisis “in a peaceful and diplomatic manner,” he said, repeating President Bush’s statement that “Iran is not Iraq.” However, he said Bush has also “made it clear we never take options off the table.”
“Everybody in the international community is sending a clear message to Iran that it needs to abide by the Paris agreement, come back to negotiations, act in good faith, and provide objective guarantees that it can be trusted and that it's not developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian program,” he said.