US National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley says the world cannot let down future generations by allowing Iran to develop a nuclear bomb, saying such a development would be a disaster for the Middle East and the rest of the planet. VOA Correspondent Meredith Buel reports from Washington.
Marking the fifth anniversary of the Proliferation Security Initiative, Hadley told representatives of more than 80 nations that have endorsed the principles of the program that much has changed since the Cold War when nuclear weapons built by the former Soviet Union dominated America's national security perspective.
Hadley says the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States shattered the idea after the Cold War that global security faced no serious challenges.
The national security advisor singled out Iran, saying it must not be allowed to build a nuclear bomb.
"We will not betray future generations by allowing Iran to have a nuclear weapon," said Hadley. "Iran is a particular worry since it is both a potential proliferator and an active state sponsor of terror and thus a potential route of weapons of mass destruction for terrorist groups."
Hadley says the United States and its international partners will continue to pressure Iran over its uranium-enrichment program with diplomatic isolation and U.N. sanctions.
He says the world cannot allow Iran to use negotiations to stall for time, hedge its bets and keep open an indigenous route to a nuclear weapon.
"If there is one thing I hope we can all agree on, it is that a nuclear-armed Iran would be disastrous for the peace of the Middle East and the world," said Hadley.
The United States and its European allies fear Iran wants to enrich uranium to build an atomic weapon.
Tehran insists its efforts are entirely peaceful and are producing fuel for civilian nuclear reactors.
The United States and other major nations have offered incentives to Iran to scrap the enrichment program and Hadley says diplomatic work will continue to find a peaceful solution.
"At the same time we will continue to hold open the door for a negotiated solution that offers Iran economic, political and security benefits if it will only give up its nuclear weapons ambitions," he said.
Hadley says the Proliferation Security Initiative, which has led to dozens of inspections designed to stop shipments of weapons of mass destruction, would be more effective if countries working to stop proliferation shared better intelligence information.
"This is no time to fall under the spell of an apparent calm or the illusion of false security," he said. "Much more work is needed and we will not be able to declare victory in the effort for many years to come."
Hadley called for nations to deepen their commitment and expand their efforts to stop proliferation during the next five years.