Iran not 'nuclear capable' - Gates


Iran is not yet "nuclear capable" and the US government has not concluded that it is inevitable that Tehran will get the bomb, US defence secretary, Robert Gates said in remarks aired today.

"It is our judgment ... they are not nuclear capable, not yet," Mr Gates, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Asked if the US government had concluded this was inevitable, Mr Gates said, "No. We have not ... drawn that conclusion at all, and in fact we are doing everything we can to try and keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons."

However, he added that "they (the Iranians) are continuing to make progress on these (nuclear) programs. It is going slower than they anticipated but they are moving in that direction."

US President Barack Obama is pressing other global powers to agree to a fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt nuclear work that the West suspects is aimed at making bombs, a charge Iran denies.

But some critics of Mr Obama's attempts to engage Iran have said they fear his administration may be preparing to shift from a strategy of keeping Iran from getting the bomb to a strategy of containing a nuclear-armed Iran.

"We are probably going to get another UN Security Council resolution" of sanctions on Iran, Mr Gates told NBC.

Mr Gates added that the United States and other countries will continue trying to convince the Iranians that they are "headed down the wrong path" by pressuring Iran with sanctions as well as more missile defence and other military cooperation in the Gulf region.

"At the end of the day what has to happen is that the Iranian government has to decide that its own security is better served by not having nuclear weapons than by having them," Mr Gates said.