U.S. says Iran statements show Tehran's defiance

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran’s latest statements on its nuclear program were “another signal” that Tehran was defying the international community’s call to give up enrichment activities, the United States said on Monday.

“It’s a missed opportunity,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said when asked about Iran’s announcement that it had begun industrial scale nuclear fuel production. “This is another signal that Iran is defying the international community.”

Western nations, led by the United States, suspect Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Iran says the nuclear fuel will only be used to generate electricity.

McCormack said he hoped “reasonable” Iranian leaders would do the cost-benefit calculations and see that the current approach did not benefit Iran’s people.

“There is a way out. There is a negotiation alternative should the Iranian leadership choose to take it. To date they have not and today is another indication that they have chosen not to,” said McCormack.

He said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech showed that U.N. actions against Tehran were legitimate and justified. The United Nations has imposed two rounds of sanctions against Tehran for its refusal to give up sensitive enrichment work.

“The overall trend line is Iran continuing to defy the international system and once again only raising questions about the intentions of their nuclear program,” McCormack said.