US: Iran has no need to build more nuclear plants

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns says Iranian test rocket launch "deeply disturbing."

nicholas burns 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
nicholas burns 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The United States sees no need "at all" for Iran to build additional nuclear power plants, US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said Friday. He spoke in response to a statement by Iran's ambassador to Russia, Gholamreza Ansari, that Teheran has started building a second nuclear plant and is considering ways to fuel the facility. The new reactor will have a capacity of 300 megawatts, the Interfax news service quoted Ansari as saying. The Islamic Republic was also ready to invest billions of dollars to produce nuclear fuel for its plants if other countries refused to supply it, the ambassador said. According to media reports, Iran is testing advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium, in defiance of UN resolutions to suspend enrichment activity. Burns told Reuters that Iran's test rocket launch on Monday - and media reports that Iran was testing advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium were "deeply disturbing." He said the proper response to such developments would be approval of a third set of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran. Iran says the rocket it tested will be used to launch a satellite in space. Also on Friday, another top US envoy warned that Iran's pursuit of more advanced uranium-enriching technology would intensify the international standoff over its atomic drive. "Any Iranian attempt at a more advanced centrifuge would be an escalation of Iran's ongoing noncompliance with its obligation to suspend all enrichment-related activities," the US ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Gregory Schulte, told reporters. It would constitute a "further violation of Iran's international commitments, further reason why we are concerned about the nature of Iran's nuclear program and the intentions of its leaders, and further reason for the Security Council to act," he said. Schulte said he could not confirm that tests of a new generation of centrifuges were underway at Iran's nuclear facility in Natanz, as media reports had claimed. He said he would wait for a new report by IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei to see exactly what Iran had declared on its advanced centrifuge work. "While we have no information on the technical nature of any new Iranian centrifuge, we assume the purpose of testing is to increase Iran's potential enrichment capacity," the ambassador said. The Iranian regime continues to pose a serious threat to the security of the United States, Europe and Israel, one "that needs to be countered," Deputy US Treasury Secretary Robert M. Kimmitt told members of the Anti-Defamation League's National Executive Committee in Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday. He called Teheran's uranium enrichment activities and ballistic missile development a "dangerous combination" that necessitated continued action by the United States and the international community. "The Iranian regime disguises its involvement in proliferation and terrorism activities through an array of deceptive practices specifically designed to evade detection from the international community," Kimmitt said. "These deceptive practices are specifically designed to evade the risk-management controls put in place by responsible financial institutions and have allowed actions by Iranian banks to remain undetected as they move funds through the international financial system to pay for the regime's illicit activities." The US Treasury played an integral role in the administration's Iran strategy through the use of targeted financial measures and preventing the regime's abuse and manipulation of the international financial system, Kimmitt said, adding that Teheran continued to funnel millions of dollars to terrorist organizations, and poses the greatest threat to Israel.