The United States said Wednesday that Iran could be close to having enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb - if it hadn't already reached that point. That warning came during an ongoing board meeting of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, whose chief harshly criticized Iran this week for failing to cooperate with the international community.
In remarks to the International Atomic Energy Agency's board, U.S. envoy Glyn Davies said Washington had serious concerns that Iran may be deliberately trying to pursue what he called a "nuclear weapon option." Davies also said Iran was close to having the ability to make a nuclear bomb.
He joined European IAEA envoys in calling for Iran to show genuine commitment to peace and security - and to engage with the international community to end the standoff over its nuclear program.
Iran claims its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes of generating energy. But time after time, western nations and the IAEA have faulted Tehran for failing to fully disclose all the details of its program and to adequately respond to allegations it may be building a nuclear weapon.
This week, the IAEA's director general Mohamed ElBaradei said the agency faced a stalemate when it came to Iran.
"In my view, there are three key areas relevant to Iran's nuclear program that need to be addressed," said Mohamed ElBaradei. "First and specifically, Iran needs to respond adequately to all the questions raised by the agency, in order to exclude the possibility of there being a military dimension to its nuclear program. To this end, it is essential that Iran substantively reengage with the agency to clarify and bring to closure all outstanding issues, including the most difficult and important questions regarding the authenticiy of information relating to the alleged weaponization studies by granting the agency access to persons, informations and locations."
ElBaradei called for Iran to respond to Washington's call for a dialogue.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said earlier this week he was ready to discuss so-called "global challenges" with the international community - presumably including Iran's nuclear program. But he ruled out chances his country would halt uranium enrichment. News reports suggested Iran will present new proposals to a group know as the P5 + 1 - the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany.
Western nations have given Iran until the end of this month to accept an offer that it suspend its uranium enrichment program in exchange for a package of incentives and talks. If not, they warn Iran may face tougher sanctions.