December 8, 2013
US sees 'troubling' Iran nuclear moves, seeks steps by Tehran
The United States said it saw "troubling developments" in Iran's nuclear programme and called on the country's new president to take concrete steps soon to ease concerns about Tehran's aims.
Reinforcing the West's message at a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog that time was of the essence in moving to resolve the decade-old nuclear dispute, the European Union told Tehran that any "further procrastination is unacceptable".
Both the United States and the 28-nation EU expressed hope that the election of Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who took office as new Iranian president in early August, would lead to a softening of the Islamic state's nuclear defiance.
But they also said Iran had continued to increase its nuclear capacity in recent months and that no progress had been made so far in a long-stalled UN investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by Iran, which denies any such activity.
They warned that they may seek diplomatic action against Iran at the next quarterly meeting of the 35-nation board of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in late November, if no progress has been achieved by then.
US Ambassador Joseph Macmanus said Washington was ready to work with the new Iranian government "to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community's concerns" about Iran's nuclear programme.
"We are hopeful that the Rouhani administration will live up to its assurances of transparency and cooperation by taking concrete steps over the next several months," he told the closed-door board meeting, according to a copy of his speech.
But, Macmanus added, "should Iran continue its intransigence and obfuscation, we will work with fellow board members at the November board meeting to hold Iran appropriately accountable."
Iran says it is enriching uranium only for civilian energy and medicine. The West suspects the programme is covertly oriented towards developing a nuclear weapons capability.