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Gates Calls Iran Threat to Middle East, US

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says Iran remains a threat to the Middle East and to the United States despite a new U.S. Intelligence report that Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

In a speech to a security conference in Bahrain Saturday, Gates said the countries in the Persian Gulf must work together to demand that Iran clear all ambiguities about its past nuclear activities and openly pledge not to develop nuclear weapons in the future.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington and other world powers have agreed to keep up pressure on Iran for refusing to stop enriching uranium - a process that can be used in developing nuclear weapons.

Rice told reporters after talks with her NATO counterparts in Brussels, that the parties agreed to continue a push for additional U.N. sanctions, if Iran refuses to comply.

Secretary Rice also met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the meeting, but did not appear to have changed Russia's opposition to additional sanctions on Iran.

Lavrov told reporters that Moscow wants more talks in dealing with Iran's disputed nuclear program.

The United States says the findings in the intelligence report show that international pressure on Tehran has had an effect and must continue.

Iran has never acknowledged having a nuclear weapons program and says its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes only.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.