A top U.S. arms control official says Iran has embarked on the same course as North Korea and is unlikely to stick to any deal with the Europeans to back off from nuclear weapons.
Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Stephen Rademaker, says Iran has made the strategic decision to build nuclear weapons and is not likely to suspend any part of its uranium enrichment program that could be used for building a bomb. France, Germany, and Britain have offered to give Iran valuable nuclear technology in exchange for a commitment to suspend uranium enrichment.
"We are very skeptical of Iran's good faith in these negotiations and we have told our European allies that we will not stand in the way in their effort to come to some diplomatic understanding with Iran, but we are very skeptical of Iran's long-term intentions and we do not expect Iran to comply over the long term with any commitment not to develop nuclear weapons," he said.
He added that the United States has experience in such deals and once had an arrangement with North Korea, only to discover years later that Pyongyang was secretly building nuclear weapons.
Mr. Rademaker says his concerns are confirmed by reports that Iran is able to make large numbers of ballistic missiles that could hit Israel or U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf.
"On my point about Iran looking a lot more like North Korea than like Libya, this coincidence of a nuclear-weapons program and a long-range missile program is not a coincidence, it is something one would predict for a country that has made a strategic decision to become a nuclear power," he noted.
Mr. Rademaker said both Iran and North Korea are developing long-range missiles and nuclear weapons to put on those missiles.
The International Atomic Energy Agency meets at the end of the month to assess whether Iran's nuclear program is peaceful, as Tehran claims, or whether it is military in nature.