UN Airs New Concerns After Iran Says Nuclear Program Peaceful

Posted August 30th, 2012 at 3:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Iran's supreme leader says his country is not pursuing nuclear weapons but will not give up its national right for peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke to the Non-Aligned Movement's summit in Tehran Thursday, even as the U.N. nuclear watchdog publicized new concerns about Iran's controversial nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran has more than doubled the production capacity of its uranium enrichment program at a secure underground site known as Fordo.

The U.N. agency also said in a report Thursday that “extensive activities” — referring to an alleged purge of cleanup evidence — at Iran's Parchin military complex — would hinder its ability to investigate the scope of Iran's nuclear work.

The enrichment is controversial because it brings uranium to a level close to what is needed to build a nuclear weapon.

Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes and the enriched uranium is needed for medical research. But the United States, Israel and other some countries believe Iran is secretly trying to build nuclear weapons.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney warned that the window of opportunity to resolve the issue remains open but “will not remain open indefinitely.”

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's speech also took aim at the U.N. Security Council, describing it as illogical, unjust and a defunct relic of the past that the United States uses “to impose their bullying manner on the world.”

Visiting U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also addressed the summit, urging Iran to comply with U.N. resolutions demanding it curb its nuclear activities.

Mr. Ban also reprimanded Iran for “outrageous” comments denying the Holocaust and Israel's right to exist, and called on the two foes to drop threats against each other.

The Non-Aligned Movement was organized during the Cold War to provide a forum for countries that were allied with neither the United States nor the Soviet Union. But since the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, the group has struggled for identity and clout.