We would know if Iran had made ‘a breakout’ to the bomb, White House says

Washington believes sanctions can still thwart Iran’s nuclear drive, says Obama’s spokesman

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (photo credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (photo credit: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The United States said Friday it can see what’s going on with Iran’s nuclear program and that it would know if Tehran is close to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“I would also say that we have eyes — we have visibility into the program, and we would know if and when Iran made what’s called a breakout move towards acquiring a weapon,” said Jay Carney, spokesman for the White House.

Carney later said he was referring to International Atomic Energy Agency officials who are mandated to inspect Iran’s nuclear sites.

However, Iran has repeatedly refused to let inspectors into key nuclear sites.

Military sites in Iran that do not have confirmed nuclear activities are off-limits to inspectors, AFP noted, unless they are provided for by agreement or under the terms of an Additional Protocol to the NPT (Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty) — which Iran dropped in 2006.

Carney said Washington still believes there is time for the “extremely and increasingly aggressive sanctions” against Iran to work.

The US Congress recently passed far-reaching sanctions against Iran, thought to be the most stringent set of penalties against the Islamic Republic to date.

On Thursday, US National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor also said Iran was progressing in its nuclear program — but was not yet on the brink of having a nuclear weapon.

The two US officials’ comments came after statements Thursday by Defense Minister Ehud Barak that there is a growing sense of urgency about the Iranian nuclear program and that the US and Israel are on the same page about it. Earlier that day, reports surfaced that a new National Intelligence Estimate, prepared by the US intelligence community and given to President Barak Obama, outlined Iran’s alarming progress in its quest for a nuclear weapon. The White House did not comment on the report.

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