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In its latest report on Iran's nuclear program, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, said that Iran continues to expand its uranium enrichment program in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The IAEA said that Iran is now operating 5000 centrifuges and has stockpiled more than 1300 kilograms of low enriched uranium.
Uranium enriched to low levels is used for nuclear power plants; at high levels of enrichment it can be used to produce nuclear weapons. Iran has the right to a civil nuclear program, but also has the responsibility to meet its U.N. Security Council and other obligations in cooperating with the IAEA to take all necessary steps to reassure the international community that its nuclear program carries only peaceful intentions.
The IAEA also said that Iran refused its inspectors access to its heavy water reactor facility at Arak, and that the facility's roofing and "containment structure" do not permit the IAEA to report on the progress of construction at the reactor, as is required by the Security Council. In addition, the IAEA said, Iran has not cooperated with the Agency "in connection with the remaining issues which give rise to concerns and which need to be clarified to exclude the possibility of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program."
In recent testimony before congress, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates commented on Iran's expanding nuclear program:
"Our concern about the nature of the Iran problem has continued to rise as they continue to make further progress in enriching uranium and particularly in their public statements, and also as they have enjoyed some success in their missile field."
Mr. Gates said that international concerns have been exacerbated "given the unwillingness of the Iranians to slow, stop, or even indicate a willingness to talk about their programs."
The U.S. under President Barack Obama has offered full U.S. participation in direct multilateral talks with Iran over its nuclear program. He says that the international community must prevent the emergence of a nuclear armed Iran because it will trigger a dangerous nuclear weapons race in the Middle East and make Iran itself less secure.