Top U.S. Official: Iran Hiding Nuclear Weapons Program

LISBON - A top U.S. official accused Iran on Thursday of concealing a nuclear weapons program, and said international pressure must be kept up to make Tehran reveal it.

John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for arms control and international security, said the United States, its European allies and other countries on the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were determined eventually to force Iran to come clean about its atomic weapons program.

"We are not going to reduce the pressure on Iran," Bolton told a news conference. "We think the pressure they've been under has been critical to their revealing the pieces about their nuclear program that they already have revealed."

Bolton, a well-known hawk in the Washington administration, confirmed the United States would not seek to have the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, report Iran to the UN Security Council, a move that could lead to sanctions.

But he declared: "We think the Iranians are still trying to conceal a clandestine weapons program, and that's why it remains a grave concern to us."

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has declined to say whether the IAEA board would censure Iran at a March 8 meeting, but said this week Tehran was cooperating better with global non-proliferation efforts.

He voiced confidence that Iran would make good on a pledge to suspend uranium enrichment activities. Tehran insists its nuclear effort is purely to generate electricity.

Bolton was in Lisbon for a two-day meeting of 14 countries that are part of the Proliferation Security Initiative. Canada, Norway and Singapore are attending for the first time.