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Iran says it will resume enriching uranium

State Department alleges covert chemical weapons stockpile


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The Natanz facility, shown in this commercial satellite image, is one of the suspected uranium enrichment sites in Iran.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iran has announced a "substantial resumption" of its uranium enrichment program and may have already stockpiled chemical weapons, a State Department official said Thursday.

In testimony before the House International Relations Committee, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton said Iran had reneged "on the commitment it made to the United Kingdom, Germany and France" to stop enriching uranium.

Bolton said Iran told the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, that beginning next week the country will restart "the production of uranium centrifuge parts assembly and testing."

"This is yet another example of Iran thumbing its nose at the international community," Bolton said.

Bolton said Iran's nuclear weapons program is a "threat to international peace and security" and called for Tehran to be referred to the U.N. Security Council.

Bolton also charged that Iran has a covert program to develop and stockpile chemical weapons.

"Reports by our intelligence community make that clear ... that Iran may already have stockpiled blister, blood, choking and nerve agents, and the bombs and artillery shells to deliver them, which it had previously manufactured," he said.

Last week in Vienna, the IAEA's board of governors unanimously passed a resolution rebuking Iran for not cooperating with the international community on its nuclear program.

The resolution called on Iran to come clean on its nuclear program but did not threaten action for noncompliance.

The text acknowledged some cooperation by Iran, but called on the nation to work with the IAEA board to answer important questions.

Those questions include identifying the source of its highly enriched uranium program and the extent of its development of P2 centrifuges that can be used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

Iran had promised to suspend its enrichment activities, but the resolution said Iran's commitments "have not been comprehensively implemented."

Washington has been pushing to send the matter to the Security Council since November, when the IAEA passed its first resolution against Iran, but its European allies have tried to solve the matter through diplomatic negotiations with Iran.


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