The statements came after President Mahmud Ahmadinejad on April 9 announced that Iran is now capable of producing nuclear fuel on an industrial scale through enrichment.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McComack said Iran's decision not to halt enrichment-related activities would have increasing "costs for the Iranian people," such as lost business deals due to international sanctions.
"They have decided not to, at this point, stop their enrichment-related activities, and that comes along with costs for the Iranian people and that's rather unfortunate, because it doesn't have to be that way," McCormack said. "There are opportunity costs for now -- business deals that don't get done, for trade that doesn't happen, for investment that doesn't happen."
Spokespeople for the European Union urged Iran to halt enrichment, and said the bloc remained committed to the two sets of United Nations sanctions that have been imposed on Iran over its refusal to halt such work.
A control panel at the Bushehr nuclear power plant (Fars)
CASCADES AND CENTRIFUGES: Experts and pundits alike continue to debate the goals and status of Iran's nuclear program. It remains unclear whether the program is, as Tehran insists, a purely peaceful enegy project or, as the United States claims, part of an effort to acquire nuclear weapons.
On June 7, 2006, RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel spoke with nuclear expert Shannon Kile of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden to help sort through some of the technical issues involved. "[Natanz] will be quite a large plant," Kile said. "There will be about 50,000 centrifuges and how much enriched uranium that can produce [is] hard to say because the efficiency of the centrifuges is not really known yet. But it would clearly be enough to be able to produce enough [highly-enriched uranium] for a nuclear weapon in fairly short order, if that's the route that they chose to go...." (more)