Washington: The US will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapon, a Pentagon official has said and asked Tehran to accept the will of the international community on the issue.
"I am not aware of the potential consequences, but this administration has been clear that we will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapon," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, told reporters.
The UN nuclear agency on Monday confirmed that Iran has begun enriching uranium at an underground bunker to a level that can be upgraded more quickly for use in a nuclear weapon than the nation’s main enriched stockpile.
Comment from the International Atomic Energy Agency came after diplomats said that centrifuges at the Fordo site near Iran’s holy city of Qom are churning out uranium enriched to 20 percent. That level is higher than the 3.5 percent being made at Iran’s main enrichment plant and can be turned into fissile warhead material faster and with less work.
Little said this is the bottom line of not only the United States but also the red line of international community.
"We have repeatedly expressed concern about their development of nuclear capabilities and Iranians are aware of those concerns," he said in response to a question.
"I am not going to go into the speculation about where we might be able to reach or not reach, but I would reiterate that Iranians need to accept the will of the international community not to develop a nuclear weapon,” Little said.
In the meantime, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters that Iran`s uranium enrichment at heavily-fortified Fordu underground site near Qom is a "further escalation" in the nuclear showdown with the international community.
"We are closely monitoring their nuclear program in general, and this development, given their track record and what the IAEA inspectors have been able to report, it`s not a surprise to us, what we`re hearing."
The State Department`s response came after Iran announced over the weekend that the Fordo plant near Qom city will be inaugurated soon and will have the capacity to produce uranium enriched to 20 percent.
"If they are enriching at Fordu to 20 percent, this is a further escalation of their ongoing violation with regard to their nuclear obligations, including the legally binding UN Security Council resolutions," Nuland said.
"So obviously, we call on Iran once again to suspend enrichment activities, cooperate fully with the IAEA and immediately comply with all Security Council and IAEA Board of Governors resolutions," Nuland said in response to a question.
The inspectors of IAEA, she said, have found that Iran is not complying with its obligations.
"Iran plays this game with the inspectors. They let them go some places at some times when it seems to suit their purposes, but that doesn`t change the fact that what the inspectors are now reporting is that they are taking the next step and escalating their violations of their own commitment," she said.
(With PTI inputs)