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US Says Iran Weapons Tests A Concern

AFP | April 4 2006

Iran's test-firing of what it called a highly destructive torpedo, atop tensions over Iran's nuclear ambitions, is a "concern", a State Department spokesman said Monday.

"The fact that in three days you've had the test of a missile, as well as the reported test of a torpedo of new capability, demonstrates a weaponization program by Iran that does nothing to reassure Iran's neighbors or the international community," deputy spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters. "It certainly is of concern."

But Ereli said the US is committed to resolving through diplomacy the issue of Iran's uranium enrichment operation -- which the US believes masks a nuclear weapon program.

"The United States has made it clear ... that we are committed to a diplomatic solution because we believe a diplomatic solution can work," he said.

Iran meanwhile warned the West Monday not to "play with fire" after it test-fired what it described as a highly destructive torpedo in war games in the Gulf.

On Friday Iran also announced the successful test of a new multiple warhead missile capable of evading radar detection.

Ereli said Iran's stance has hurt potential diplomacy.

"The reason we're at a standstill is not because the United States isn't in negotiations.

"The reason we're at a standstill is because Iran, with single-minded purpose, is thumbing its nose at the international community ... and moving with apparently great determination to develop an enrichment capability," of uranium, which could be used for bombs.

An anonymous senior State Department source said Tehran's arms demonstration "demonstrates a show of force designed to intimidate. That behaviour is quite characteristic of the regime."

None of the EU-3 -- France, Germany and Britain -- who are leading negotiations over Iran's nuclear ambitions -- have asked Washington to talk directly to Tehran, the source said.

Ereli also said that Iran had rejected US offers of aid for victims of last week's powerful earthquake in western Iran, which killed 70 people and left 1,300 injured.

He said that Iran's UN ambassador, Jawad Zarif, told Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns Saturday that the Iranian government was very appreciative of the offer of assistance and the condolences, but that they did not need the assistance at this time. Pentagon skeptical but not discounting Iran missile strides


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