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Iran Has 'Last Chance' to Meet Nuclear Agreements, says White House

Scott Stearns, Voice of America
White House

The White House says Iran has one last chance to meet its obligations under U.N. nuclear agreements, before the Security Council considers possible action. Diplomats say U.N. inspectors have found traces of weapons-grade uranium at a second site inside Iran. Diplomats at the International Atomic Energy Agency say U.N. inspectors found traces of highly enriched uranium at an electricity plant west of Tehran that the government had previously said was a non-nuclear facility.

Earlier this year, U.N. inspectors found weapons-grade enriched uranium particles at a plant about 250 kilometers south of the capital. Responding to that finding, Iran said the material may have already been on the equipment when it was purchased outside the country.

Enriched uranium could be used to make nuclear weapons, and the U.N. agency has given Iran until the end of October to prove that it has no secret nuclear weapons program.

White House Spokesman Scott McClellan says, if Tehran does not meet that deadline, the dispute should be brought before the U.N. Security Council.

Scott McClellan "This is one last chance for Iran to comply, and if it doesn't, we believe it should be reported to the Security Council," he said.

The United Nations wants Iran to allow tougher inspections of its nuclear facilities. Iran says it is only using nuclear material to generate electricity. Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday that Iran will not abandon its uranium enrichment program because it is only for civilian purposes.

Mr. McClellan says the Bush administration believes Iran is developing a nuclear weapons program, and is trying to hide that development from U.N. inspectors.

"These are part of a long-standing pattern of evasion and deception to disguise the true nature and purpose of Iran's nuclear activities," he said.

The IAEA will consider a report on the state of Iran's nuclear program at its next board meeting November 20. It may then refer the case to the U.N. Security Council, which could recommend economic and political sanctions.

Iran says it will cut back its cooperation with the U.N. nuclear agency, because it says the October 31 deadline is politically motivated.

... Payvand News - 9/26/03 ... --

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