Iran insists that its program of nuclear enrichment is intended entirely for peaceful uses, including providing electricity and producing medical isotopes, but the United States and other Western powers say the rapid expansion of Iran’s enrichment capabilities, and construction of new facilities in a mountain near Qom, could be a hedge to allow construction of a nuclear weapon should the top leadership decide.
Israel has said that acquisition of a nuclear weapon by Iran would be a mortal threat to the Jewish state, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened a preemptive strike if it appears that Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear capability.
President Barack Obama has not ruled out the use of U.S. military force if Iran is seen to be acquiring a nuclear weapon, but he has committed himself to seeking a diplomatic solution if possible.
© 2012 McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
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