ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- The international community should prepare to take stronger action to inhibit Iran's nuclear weapons hopes, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday.
"We had hoped that the Tehran Research Reactor proposal offered a way out of the current situation in a way that would be satisfactory to all of the parties," Gates said during his trip to Ankara, Turkey of Western overtures to Iran about its nuclear plans. "There is no objection to Iran having a peaceful nuclear program under appropriate IAEA safe guards and in compliance with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty."
However, Iran is violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and its leaders have rejected the Tehran Research Reactor proposal that would send its uranium to a third country for enrichment, then ship it back for its medical nuclear reactor.
"If they are prepared to take up the original proposal ... of delivering 1,200 kilograms of their low-enriched uranium, all at once, to an agreed party -- I think there would be a response to that," Gates said. "But the reality is they have done nothing to reassure the international community that they are prepared to comply with the (non-proliferation treaty) or stop their progress towards a nuclear weapon. Therefore, I think that various nations need to think about whether the time has come for a different tact."
While engagement would be a first choice, pressure would be applied if that didn't work, he said.
"Iran is the only country in the region that has publicly declared its intent to destroy another state in the region," Gates said. "I think that there is a very great worry that if Iran ... proceeds with this program unconstrained that there is a very real danger of proliferation here in the region that would make it even unstable and unsafe for everyone."