A Shahid Rajai University student speaks to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as they sits in an electric vehicle of the 2nd National Festival of Innovation and Prosperity in Tehran, Iran on February 8, 2010. Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that Iran will start the controversial process of enriching its uranium to 20 percent. UPI/Maryam Rahmanian | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- A decision by Iran to move toward a uranium enrichment level of 20 percent shows Tehran has no interest in a diplomatic solution, U.S. lawmakers said.
Iranian officials notified the International Atomic Energy Agency of their intention to enrich uranium to 20 percent as international pressure mounts.
Tehran said it needs enriched uranium in order to fuel a medical research reactor. Western powers, however, worry Iran is moving toward the development of a nuclear weapon.
Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., said Tehran's decision turns the controversial nuclear issue into a full-fledged crisis.
"It should be abundantly clear to all that Tehran is not interested in a diplomatic resolution on anything other than its own terms, which will inevitably lead to a nuclear weapons capability," the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said.
U.S. lawmakers in December passed the Iran Refined Sanctions Act that adds additional measures to the 1996 Iran Sanctions Act. The 1996 measure forbids companies from investing more than $20 million in the Iranian energy sector.
World leaders have reacted with outrage over Iran's decision, suggesting tighter sanctions on Tehran are an inevitability.
"As Congress moves toward sending a sanctions bill to the White House, we will be very focused on the international community's response to Iran's rejection of any diplomatic resolution of this issue," said Berman.