Gates says Iran not yet "nuclear capable"

14:07, April 12, 2010      

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Sunday said Iran is not yet "nuclear capable," but is slowly making progress in that direction.

"Our judgement here (is) they are not nuclear-capable," Gates said to NBC's "Meet the Press" program, "not yet."

"They are continuing to make progress on these programs. It's going slow--slower than they anticipated, but they are moving in that direction."

The assessment came as U.S. President Barack Obama is gearing up to host a Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. The summit's main purpose is to secure loose nuclear materials around the world.

Gates said the United States hadn't drawn the conclusion that Iran is going to become a nuclear-armed power.

"We're doing everything we can to try and keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons," he said.

Last week, Obama announced a new U.S. nuclear strategy, including a vow not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations, which means Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea remain on the potential target list of U.S. nuclear forces.

Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday accused Obama of threatening a "nuclear attack" on Iran. On Friday, Tehran said it would mass produce speedier centrifuges for its controversial uranium enrichment program.

The United States and other Western countries have been pushing for new UN sanctions to restrict Iran's nuclear efforts. Iran has denied the U.S. accusations, saying that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.



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