U.S. 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. Critics of the administration's policy are arguing for negotiations with the government in Tehran. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports from Washington.
Iranian officials, earlier this year, toured a nuclear facility and told diplomats Iran's nuclear program is meant for generating civilian energy.
The United States and its European allies accuse Iran of using its uranium enrichment program to make nuclear weapons.
And U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, in Washington, said the world cannot allow Iran to use negotiations to stall for time, hedge its bets and keep open a 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," Hadley said.
Speaking to representatives of more than 80 nations that have endorsed global non-proliferation efforts, Hadley said that much has changed since the Cold War when the nuclear weapons built by the former Soviet Union dominated America's national security perspective.
Hadley says the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States shattered the idea after the Cold War that global security faced no serious challenges.
And so the national security advisor said Iran must not be allowed to build a nuclear bomb.
Hadley says, "We will not betray future generations by allowing Iran to have a nuclear weapon. 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 WMD for terrorist groups."
While Hadley says the U.S. and its Western partners will continue to pressure Iran with diplomatic isolation and United Nations sanctions, he says the door is open for a negotiated solution.
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.
Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski argues that current U.S. policy, which raises the possibility of using military force, will almost certainly lead to an Iran with nuclear weapons.
"A policy in which the impression is created that America is trying to impose its will on Iran is a policy which intensifies Iranian insecurity, makes it less likely to compromise and increases the importance of eventually having nuclear weapons as a deterrent, as a means of self-defense," Brzezinski said.
Brzezinski says negotiations would lead to better relations between the two countries and could improve efforts to promote democracy inside Iran. "If the relationship between the United States and Iran is hostile, the scope for freedom narrows," Brzezinski said. "If it becomes more relaxed, we know this from history with other countries, the scope for freedom enlarges."
Brzezinski argues for a broader and more flexible approach to Iran. He says that would increase the prospects for an international arrangement that could allow Iran a nuclear energy program. He says it would also minimize the possibility of it rapidly transforming into a weapons program.