14 April 2010
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that Iran would not have the capacity to build a nuclear bomb for at least another year, if not longer. "I think that most estimates that I have seen have not changed since the last time we talked about it, which is probably at least a year, maybe more," Gates said at the start of a visit to Latin America and the Caribbean.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that Iran was ignoring questions from the international community about its nuclear program, using "small phrases" to make "small suggestions.” At a summit on nuclear security in Washington DC, Medvedev said he did not support crippling sanctions that would hurt the people of Iran, "but if nothing happens, we will have to use sanctions."
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner expressed hope that UN sanctions on Iran would be passed before the end of this month. On Tuesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the nuclear security summit in Washington that he wanted the United Nations to impose fresh sanctions no later than May. "Will it happen before the end of the month? We all hope so, but it's not certain," Kouchner said on ‘Europe 1’ radio, after he and Sarkozy returned from the 47-nation summit.
China said it was ready to discuss "new ideas" on Iran. Deputy Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said Beijing still favored continued talks in a bid to resolve the dispute over Iran's suspect nuclear program, but was open to discussion. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was hopeful China would eventually throw its support behind a fourth round of UN sanctions against a defiant Tehran.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he had told President Obama that "we do not favor Iran's nuclear weapon ambitions…[but] "on the issue of sanctions I said to him as far as we are concerned we don't think sanctions really achieve their objective…Very often the poor in the affected country suffer more," Singh told reporters in Washington, adding: “As far as the ruling establishment is concerned, they are not really affected by these sanctions in any meaningful way."
Last week, Iran had announced the successful testing of third generation centrifuges capable of enriching uranium six times faster than those currently in operation at its enrichment facility in Natanz.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that Iran's "nuclear rights and path are untouchable and irrevocable," regardless of Western pressure. "I believe that the ballyhoo over the nuclear issue is just an excuse by the US to weaken Iran and get domination over the Middle East," Ahmadinejad said in a live interview with state television.
Meanwhile, Iran has sent a letter of complaint to the United Nations over recent comments by US President Barack Obama that it considers to be "nuclear blackmail," the state-run IRNA news agency reports. Tehran claims Obama’s new nuclear strategy contains threats of a nuclear attack against the Islamic Republic. "UN members should not tolerate or ignore such nuclear blackmail in the 21st century," states the letter, adding: "The United States, in an illegitimate manner, has identified a non-nuclear country as a target of its atomic weapons and is drawing its military plans on this basis." Last week Obama unveiled a review of nuclear policy which limits its use of the American atomic weapons arsenal but excludes Iran and North Korea for flouting UN Security Council resolutions.
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