US official: Iran seeks nuclear weapons capability

Robert Einhorn cautions Iran approaching "threshold" of nuke capability, but says US does not believe it will have operational abilities soon.

March 9, 2011 17:39
1 minute read.
Iranian workers stand in front of Bushehr.

bushehr_311 reuters. (photo credit: Stringer Iran / Reuters)


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WASHINGTON - The United States believes Iran intends to get to the brink of a nuclear arms capability so it could make them if it wished, a senior US official said on Wednesday.

However, Robert Einhorn, the US State Department's senior adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, said, he does not believe Iran soon plans to attempt a nuclear "breakout" -- abandoning its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and moving full-speed to toward atomic weapons.

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"We believe Iran is moving to the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability," Einhorn, said in response to a question at a Washington think tank, making clear that he was talking about Iran's intentions rather than its current capabilities.

Earlier Wednesday, world powers urged Iran to cooperate fully with the UN atomic agency to help resolve concerns about possible military aspects of the Islamic state's disputed nuclear program.

In a joint statement issued at a board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the six powers made clear they remained ready for talks with Iran to find a diplomatic solution to the row over its nuclear work.

"The door remains open," the statement said.

The statement was an apparent bid to underline unity between the six powers -- the United States, Germany, France, Russia, Britain and China -- on the issue after their talks with Iran in December and January failed to make any progress.

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