US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that Iran is entitled to the peaceful use of civilian nuclear power but renewed accusations that the Islamic republic was seeking atomic weapons.
"Iran is entitled to the peaceful use of civilian nuclear power. They are not entitled to a nuclear weapons programme," Clinton said. Speaking on the sidelines of a UN Security Council debate in United Nations, she said what they (Iran) are doing is starting a reactor that is, based on everything we know about it and everything that the Russians have informed us about it since they have worked with the Iranians over many years to build this reactor, strictly for peaceful purposes.
"Our problem is not with their reactor at Bushehr. Our problem is with their facilities at places like Natanz and their secret facility at Qom and other places where we believe they are conducting their weapons programme," she said. "I heard some of the news coverage that oh my goodness, the Iranians are starting the reactor.That is not the issue. They are entitled to peaceful civilian nuclear power. They are not entitled to nuclear weapons. There's two different processes," Clinton told reporters.
"We are hoping that the Iranians will come back to the table soon with the – what we call the P-5+1 or the E-3+3, headed by Cathy Ashton, to begin an in-depth negotiation over their nuclear arms programme," she said.
"This reactor is monitored by the IAEA with cooperation from Russia. We have monitoring in place on something and we believe Iran has the right to produce peaceful nuclear power," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters at his daily news conference.
"That does not let it get out of its responsibilities in international agreements and commitments to step away from an illicit nuclear weapons programme. So I would definitely divorce the two things," Gibbs said in response to a question.
The White House spokesman, however, refuted reports that the sanctions on Iran are not working. "I think if you look at articles over the past several weeks, sanctions are having an impact on the economy of Iran," he said. "The (US) President that travels around the world and makes outlandish comments is, in stepping away from his country's obligations, making it harder for the people of Iran.
That's the message I think that's being delivered with sanctions," Gibbs said. Earlier, State Department spokesman P J Crowley said that it believes that Busher nuclear reactor is for peaceful purpose and does not pose a proliferation risk.