US blasts Iran nuke claims

2010-02-12 12:08

kalahari.com

Washington - The White House on Thursday blasted Iran's nuclear declarations as based on politics more than physics, casting doubt on Tehran's claims to have produced its first stocks of highly enriched uranium.

Washington ratcheted up a war of words with Iran's leaders, after Tehran declared itself a nuclear nation on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution and at a time of rising domestic political tumult.

A group of Republican senators meanwhile unveiled a bill aimed at upping overt US support for anti-government demonstrators in Tehran, saying Iranians were hungry for freedom and America had a duty to support them.

Two days after President Barack Obama said he was seeking a "significant" new array of international sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme, his spokesman Robert Gibbs hit out at Iran's claims of accelerating uranium enrichment.

"They're based on politics, not on physics," Gibbs said.

Untrue


"The Iranian nuclear programme has undergone a series of problems throughout the year," he said, arguing that much of what President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said turned out not to be true.

"We do not believe they have the capability to enrich to the degree to which they now say they are enriching," Gibbs said.

Ahmadinejad announced earlier Iran had produced a "first stock" of 20% enriched uranium and was capable of enriching it to 80% but would not do so.

Gibbs sidestepped fresh questions about China's apparent opposition to tough new sanctions against Iran to punish its refusal to agree to an international deal to defuse the nuclear crisis.

"The Chinese have and will continue to play a constructive role... we believe, and I think they believe, it's not in their interest to have a worldwide arms race," Gibbs said.

"It's certainly not in their interest economically to have an arms race in the Middle East."

Veto-wielding China is a member of the crucial six-nation group mulling tougher sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council. Washington has already praised Russia for its new apparent openness to sanctions.

Information blockade

Washington on Wednesday unveiled a unilateral set of tougher sanctions targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The Iranian government meanwhile confronted fresh protests in the streets of Tehran, and Washington made a fresh plea for violence to be avoided.

Gibbs recalled comments by Obama in his Nobel Peace Prize address in 2009, saying the White House stood "by the universal rights of Iranians to express themselves freely and to do so without intimidation or violence".

The State Department said Tehran had attempted an unprecedented "near total information blockade" in a bid to quash the demonstrations.

Spokesperson Philip Crowley said US monitoring revealed the telephone network had been taken down, text messages blocked and the internet throttled.

"It's a remarkable statement... of how significantly the Iranian government fears its own people," Crowley said.

Republican Senators John Cornyn and Sam Brownback unveiled legislation that would green-light non-military aid to Iranian democratic opposition groups and humanitarian aid to "victims of the current regime", their offices said.

Crackdown

The bill includes a non-binding statement that Washington fully backs "efforts of the Iranian people to oppose and remove the current regime and transition to a freely elected, open, and democratic government in Iran".

Obama has been careful to avoid injecting the US into the domestic Iranian political crisis, reasoning so doing would give the government an excuse for a crackdown.

But Gibbs noted on Thursday that the Tehran government's hold over people in the streets "over the past many months is in many ways called into question".

As vast crowds massed in Tehran to mark the 1979 revolution, security forces attacked opposition leaders Mohammad Khatami and Mehdi Karroubi while clashing with their supporters, an opposition website said.

Iran had previously enriched uranium to just 3.5% but has started enriching it to the higher level required for a Tehran medical research reactor, after snubbing a UN-drafted plan for fuel to be supplied by France and Russia.

Experts say that once Iran has enriched uranium to 20%, there is nothing to stop it carrying on to the 93% level needed to produce nuclear weapons as the technology is the same.

The West suspects Iran of using its nuclear programme as a cover for efforts to build an atomic bomb, a charge Iran strongly denies.
Read more on:    iran  |  iran nuclear programme
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/Music
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Cape Town 18:17 PM
Road name: Wet Weather

RAIN across the Cape Town area - turn on headlights, reduce speeds and drive with care

Hout Bay 09:25 AM
Road name: Chapmans Peak Drive

WEDNESDAYS - STOP / GO controls between 10am and 3pm for Alien Vegetation Clearing - every Wednesday - weather permitting

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Accountant

Western Cape
Initiate International
R16 000 - R18 000 Per Month

Company Administrator

Cape Town Southern Suburbs
We Bare Wood cc t/a STRIPPERS
R6 000 - R8 000 Per Month

Tracers/Debt Collection Agents

Western Cape
LNH Recruiters
R10 000 - R12 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 30% off top fragrances

Get mind blowing savings on selected fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today you may want to bond with your children and need to connect to your imaginative and playful side. It may be that you are...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.