By Carol Giacomo and Tabassum Zakaria
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
The United States warned on Tuesday that Iran's latest declared nuclear
advance could accelerate international pressures on Tehran but experts
said much depends on whether the claims prove true and whether Russia
and China see the same threat Washington does.
announcement that it had succeeded in enriching uranium to a level used
in nuclear power plants added fresh tensions to its confrontation with
the West, which accuses Tehran of developing nuclear weapons.
the regime continues to move in the direction that it is currently,
then we will be talking about the way forward with the other members of
the Security Council and Germany about how to address this going
forward," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on board Air Force
One en route to Missouri.
The State Department said it was unable to confirm Iran's claim
and some experts said even if Iran's assertions are accurate, it would
still be years before the Islamic state is able to produce a nuclear
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack stressed that
Iran's statements referred to an ability to produce uranium "at a
fairly low enrichment level," not the highly enriched grade that is a
"critical pathway" to developing nuclear weapons.
officials said they were producing enriched uranium at the 3.5 percent
level from a cascade of 164 centrifuges, rapidly rotating cylinders
used in uranium enrichment.
McCormack said Iran's announcement
defied the U.N. Security Council which last month urged Tehran to halt
enrichment by the end of April and return to talks on its nuclear
The Security Council could impose tougher resolutions
and sanctions but "at this point I think that we are going to see what
the days ahead bring us in terms of Iranian reaction," said McCormack.
He urged Iran to "choose the pathway of diplomacy as opposed to the
pathway of defiance."
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