US Vows to Keep Pressuring Iran Over its Nuclear Program; UN Chief Also Concerned About NKorea

VIENNA (AP) — The United States will continue to pressure Iran to meet its international commitments and come clean about its nuclear program, a senior U.S. official said Monday as diplomats gathered for the U.N. nuclear agency's annual meeting.

Iran is under four sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions for refusing to stop its uranium enrichment and ignoring other U.N. demands meant to ease global concerns that it is seeking to make atomic weapons.

Last week, Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he cannot confirm that all of Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful, as Tehran claims, because the country has only selectively cooperated with the U.N. watchdog and has rejected several nuclear inspectors.

"Iran must do what it has thus far failed to do — meet its obligations and ensure the rest of the world of the peaceful nature of its intentions," U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told delegates in Vienna for the IAEA'S General Conference.

While Washington remains committed to pursuing a diplomatic solution, Chu said it was clear there was a "broad and growing international consensus that will hold Iran accountable if it continues its defiance.

"We will continue to pressure the Iranian government to fulfill its international commitments," Chu said.

Washington's strong words followed similar comments by the European Union.

Paul Magnette of Belgium, whose country currently holds the bloc's rotating presidency, said the EU has urged Iran to address the IAEA's concerns and to meet with members of the international community "with the ultimate goal of establishing a comprehensive relationship."

Meanwhile, the head of Iran's nuclear program, Ali Akbar Salehi, said the IAEA was suffering from a "moral authority and credibility crisis."

"Certainly, the uncivilized double-track approach of threat and dialogue ... cannot be conducive and fruitful," he added, calling the latest round of Security Council sanctions "unjustified and illegal."

IAEA chief Amano also said North Korea's nuclear program remains "a matter of serious concern" and efforts should be made to resume talks on it.

The autocratic Asian state has not permitted the Vienna-based watchdog to implement safeguards in the country since December 2002 and no inspectors have been allowed in since April, making it impossible for inspectors to report about its atomic activities, Amano said.

North Korea walked out of international talks on restarting negotiations on its nuclear disarmament last year to protest international criticism of a long-range rocket launch.

"I again call on all parties concerned to make concerted efforts for a resumption of the six-party talks," Amano said.

Amano also mentioned the failure of Iran and Syria to fully comply with his agency.

"My basic approach has been that all safeguards agreements between member states and the agency and other relevant obligations should be implemented fully," he said.