Washington: A nuclear-armed Iran could transform the landscape of the Middle East and precipitate nuclear arms race in the region, and the US is working with its UN Security Council allies to slap additional sanctions, a top Obama administration official said.
"A nuclear-armed Iran could transform the landscape of the Middle East, precipitating a nuclear arms race, dramatically increasing the prospect and danger of local conflicts, fatally wounding the global non-proliferation regime, and emboldening the terrorists and extremists who threaten the US and our allies," a top Obama administration official has said.
"This is the reason why, the Obama administration is working with its partners at the UN Security Council to slap additional sanctions against Iran," US National Security Advisor, General (rtd) James Jones said at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"Iran's government must face real consequences for its continued defiance of the international community. We hope that Iran will make the right choice and acts to restore the confidence of the international community in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program," he said.
"Should Iran's leaders fail to make that choice, President Obama has been very clear, and I want to repeat it here: the United States is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. In so doing, we will avoid a nuclear arms race in the region and the proliferation of nuclear technology to terrorist organisations," he asserted.
"We are now working actively with allies and partners to increase the costs of Iran's continued failure to live up to its international obligations. This includes a UN Security Council sanctions resolution," he said.
"As President Obama has stated, our offer of engagement with Iran stands, and we remain prepared to pursue a better and more positive future. Iran has rights, but with those rights come responsibilities. If Iran's leaders do not fulfil those responsibilities, and if they continue to violate their international obligations, they will face ever deepening isolation," Jones observed.
The National Security Advisor said Obama extended his hand and the opportunity for dialogue to Iran soon after coming to power. American and Iranian diplomats met in Geneva in October, and through the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"With strong support from the US, France and Russia, the IAEA put forward a creative offer to produce nuclear fuel using Iran's own low enriched uranium," he said, adding it was an offer with humanitarian benefits, ensuring that Iran would meet its need for medical isotopes.
"It gave Iran the opportunity to show that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes. It would have built confidence on both sides in the possibility of further agreements. In addition, the United States went to great lengths to demonstrate our commitment and establish assurances for Iran," Jones noted.
"To date, we have seen no indication that Iran's leaders want to resolve these issues constructively. After initially accepting it, they rejected the Tehran Research Reactor proposal. They have refused to discuss their nuclear program with the P5+1," he said.
"The revelation of a previously covert enrichment site, construction of which further violated Iran's NPT obligations, fed further suspicion about Iran's intentions.”
"Iran recently increased the enrichment levels of its uranium to 20 percent. All the while, Iran continues to brutally repress its own citizens and prohibit their universal rights to express themselves freely and choose their own future," Jones said.
"These are not the behaviours of a responsible international actor, and they are not the actions of a government committed to peaceful diplomacy and a new relationship with a willing and ready partner," he said.
First Published: Thursday, April 22, 2010, 12:17