U.S. calls UN report on Iran nuclear program 'alarming,' vows further sanctions
Speaking in wake of damning IAEA report, State Department official says U.S. looking into 'additional ways to apply pressure on Iran'; France: Israel won't stand alone against nuclear Iran.
The United States said Tuesday it was alarmed by a recently published International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran's nuclear program, adding that it would pursue further economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, as well as mulling "a range of possibilities."
The IAEA report, which was handed over to the 35-member states of the IAEA Board of Governors, details a series of tests, acquisition of materials, and technology that suggests Iran has continuously worked to produce a nuclear weapon since 2003.
Speaking to the press on Wednesday, State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said the conclusions drawn by the report were "alarming," adding that Washington was looking into "additional ways to apply pressure on Iran."
"These are very serious allegations, serious charges", Toner said. "And it's incumbent on Iran to at last engage with the IAEA in a credible and transparent manner to address these concerns. I think going forward we're consulting with our partners and allies within the IAEA. There is going to be a Board of Governors meeting, I think, at the end of next week where this will be addressed."
Toner added that the U.S. was going "to work with our allies and partners" to find ways to pressure Iran away from nuclear armament development, adding that Tehran had "to address these questions, very serious questions, raised by not America, not the United States, but the international community, about the intent of its nuclear program."
Toner called the IAEA report "one of the most comprehensive and detailed assessments of Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons," saying it "raises further questions about the nature of Iran's nuclear program."
"It also demonstrates what the U.S. has known and made clear for years, which is that Iran did have a nuclear weapons program and has yet to provide any assurance that has not abandoned its intent to develop nuclear weapons," the U.S. official said.
Asked what options the U.S. is considering specifically, he said the administration "is going to look at a range of possibilities".
"We've said before that we believe the existing UN sanctions - and Resolution 1929 puts in place some of the most stringent sanctions to date for Iran and that they are having an economic impact on Iran," Toner said, adding that they were "squeezing the Iranians' economy."
"Right now I just will say that we're looking at a range of options with the overall intent of being ways that we can put additional pressure on Iran, so again, to make clear to the Iranian government that it needs to come clean," he added.
In another response to the report by the UN's nuclear watchdog, French president Nikola Sarkozy told prominent Jewish leaders that “France will always stand side by side with Israel to oppose an Iran that threatens it by developing nuclear weapons.”
The comment was made during a meeting with a delegation of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) led by WJC President Ronald S. Lauder and the president of the French Jewish community umbrella organization CRIF, Richard Prasquier.