The United States is leading a push for the United Nations Security Council to impose new sanctions on Iran because of the Iranian government's refusal to comply with U.N. mandates to suspend uranium enrichment and demonstrate that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. Highly enriched uranium can be used to produce the fissile core of a nuclear weapon.
On her recent trip to the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that with recent actions by the Iranian government, including the building of a secret nuclear facility near the city of Qom, evidence is mounting that the Iranian government is pursuing a nuclear weapon:
"Which is deeply concerning, because it doesn’t directly threaten the United States, but it directly threatens a lot of our friends, allies and partners here in this region and beyond. It also serves as an excuse or a motivator for other countries pursuing their own nuclear weapons program, which creates a level of instability that is not particularly useful."
U.S. concerns about the Iranian government's intentions are intensified by Tehran's behavior toward its citizens, said Secretary Clinton:
"The world has watched the events of the past several months in Iran with alarm. We know of the large-scale detentions and mass trials, political executions, the intimidation of family members of the opposition, and the refusal to extend Iranian citizens the right to peaceful assembly and expression."
Secretary of State Clinton said the U.S. still hopes Iran will decide to forgo any nuclear weapons ambitions and start to respect the rights of its own people. "But we cannot just keep hoping for that," said Secretary Clinton. "We have. . . .to take action to try to convince the Iranian government not to pursue nuclear weapons."