MOSCOW,(Reuters) – A senior U.S. diplomat on Tuesday described Iran as more dangerous than North Korea and said that besides developing a nuclear weapon, the Islamic state was undermining regional stability.
“It (Iran) is the greatest threat to the Non-Proliferation Pact. It is much more complex and dangerous than even North Korea,” U.S. Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph told a teleconference broadcast from the U.S. embassy in Morocco.
U.S. President George W. Bush said earlier on Tuesday he was pleased that North Korea had agreed to return to nuclear talks, although he would be sending teams to the region to ensure the U.N. Security Council resolution on sanctions is enforced.
The U.N. Security Council voted on Oct.14 to impose financial and arms sanctions on North Korea after it conducted its first nuclear test on Oct. 9.
“Iran is a different type of threat. Iran is in our assessment aggressively pursuing a nuclear weapons capability,” Joseph said.
The European Union has been trying to persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment, the part of its nuclear programme that most worries the West, in exchange for incentives offered by six world powers.
Iran says it wants to make fuel for nuclear power plants but the West believes it hopes to build atomic bombs.
Washington has been seeking to toughen a proposed U.N. resolution against Iran. Tehran has often blamed Washington for trying to sway others against it.
Joseph, who took part in an international conference in Morocco on implementing an initiative to keep nuclear material out of the hands of extremist groups, said Iran’s nuclear ambitions were not the only cause for Washington’s concern.
“Iran is not an isolated state, North Korea is isolated. Iran is located in a strategically vital region, oil is certainly a factor, and it’s is a consideration,” he said.
“We observe Iran’s behaviour in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran is determined to undercut stability.”