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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
US seeks UN action against Iran
Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr
Iran denies it wants to build nuclear weapons
The US wants the UN to impose sanctions on Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons programme, says Secretary of State Colin Powell.

He was speaking after a report by the UN nuclear agency said Iran planned to test a facility that could convert raw uranium into weapons-grade material.

Mr Powell said the US wanted the issue to be referred to the UN Security Council for action.

Tehran insists the only purpose of its nuclear programme is power generation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report said Iran wants to turn 37 tonnes of raw "yellow cake" uranium into uranium hexafluoride which can be used to produce enriched uranium by spinning it in centrifuges.

This can in turn be used to generate power or for nuclear warheads, depending on the level of enrichment.

But the document said Iran did not appear to be operating or installing centrifuges.


Tehran welcomed the report, saying it was a positive step towards demonstrating the peaceful nature of its nuclear project.

But Colin Powell said the US would be urging the IAEA board in coming days to refer the report to the UN Security Council, which could impose economic, political or diplomatic sanctions against Iran.

"We still believe the Iranians are not 'fessing up to everything. They still have a programme that, in our judgement, is a nuclear programme designed to develop ultimately a nuclear weapon," he told reporters on a one-day trip to Panama.

But he acknowledged other board members of the IAEA - which include Germany, Britain and France - did not favour sanctions at this time.

"There are a number of countries I think that would say, 'No, let's not do it yet; let's take another look at it in November'. We think there's enough now to do it, but I obviously have to hear what others have to say," he said.

The IAEA board is next due to meet in November.

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